Aside from the three Rs - reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic - Jamestown students have taken on a fourth R - resuscitation.

Lisa Lisota, a former Jamestown woman who moved to Idaho last month, credits a former Jamestown student and her middle-school teachers for saving her child’s life.

Four years ago, Josie Hegerle, a recent Jamestown High School graduate, was babysitting Lisota’s three children, ages 8, 5 and 18 months. The 18-month-old, Brian, had gotten his hands on some fruit snacks the 5-year-old was eating.

“He got them all clogged in his throat and started wiggling around in my hands,” Hegerle said “I turned him around, and he was pure blue - his face was - and he wasn’t crying or anything. You could tell that he couldn’t breathe.”

Hegerle told Lisota she had learned what to do next in her health class at the Jamestown Middle School.

“I laid him on my arm and hit him on his back - pretty hard, a couple of times - and then they all came out, and he started crying and turning back to a normal color. … I started to cry too; I was so nervous, and then I immediately called his mom and told her what happened.”

In a letter to The  Jamestown Sun, Lisota said she was “grateful for Hegerle’s quick thinking and acting.”

“I have no doubt she saved Brian’s life,” Lisota wrote. “I’m also so grateful to those teachers at the middle school who took the time to teach their students a skill that may very well save other lives.”

Jeremy Newman, physical education teacher at the middle school, said there is a combined curriculum in seventh- and eighth-grade physical education classes that teaches students how to perform the Heimlich maneuver in case of a choking scenario, and they are also trained in CPR and how to use an automatic electronic defibrillator. The CPR and AED training portion of the curriculum started this past school year with funding made available from the North Dakota Legislature and in-kind donations from Jamestown Ambulance Service.

“The training that we’ve started and we’re able to do, basically free of charge, it’s a great opportunity for kids, and it’s something that we’ll do every year,” Newman said. “I think as scary as CPR is, at a young age like middle school, if kids are able to learn it then, they’ll be comfortable with it as they get older. I think it’s a very cool thing that we get to offer starting in the middle school.”

Newman said all schools have had AEDs for about 10 years and the Ambulance Service and the American Heart Association have provided training devices that are identical to the real units.

“The kids can become familiar with it in practice, so that way when it does come time to use it if need be in an emergency, then they’d know exactly what buttons to push and how it works,” he said.

When students enter the ninth grade, they begin training in the Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program. CERT and Teen CERT are Federal Emergency Management Agency programs aimed to educate the public on disaster preparedness. Through their CERT training, students become certified by the American Heart Association in CPR and the use of AEDs. The six- to eight-week program also teaches basic first aid, search and rescue, fire safety and disaster planning. March 2014 marked the fourth year of the training, which meant at that point, every student in Jamestown High School had completed CERT training. The physical education teachers who teach the course are also American Heart Association certified trainers.

Joe Heglund, Jamestown Public Schools curriculum director, said students get excited about the training because it is something “real to them.”

“A lot of times students sit in class and say ‘what does this have to do with me? When am I ever going to have to use this?’” Heglund said. “Well, this is that type of training; you could use it anytime. You’ll never know when that occasion will occur, but if we have students - like in this situation that we had with this student (Hegerle) - if they can use something that they learned in a class at school to save a life, that’s huge to me.”

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at

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