Nurse saves student from diabetic seizure

A LIFESAVER. Cassidy Johnson served as Seviers nurse
until she transferred to an elementary school.

Katie Carmon

A LIFESAVER. Cassidy Johnson served as Sevier’s nurse until she transferred to an elementary school.

Cameron Roberts, Staff Writer

Normally, kids go to the school nurse because they have a really bad headache or they got hurt in the gym. This year, things got a lot more serious when school nurse Cassidy Johnson had to save a student’s life.

Johnson was the nurse at Sevier Middle for the first few weeks of the school year, until she moved to Johnson Elementary.

“Even as a child, I knew I wanted to be a registered nurse,” she said. “Once into my nursing career, the opportunity to apply for a school nurse position became available. School nursing allows me to do what I love, and that is taking care of people.”

Kingston Waddell, an eighth grade student, has Type 1 Diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. There is no cure; people with Type 1 Diabetes have to take insulin and watch what they eat instead.

Back in October, Waddell was standing at the bus stop when he suddenly had a diabetic seizure.

“I don’t remember much,” Waddell said. “I just remember going blind and sharp pains.”

Johnson was on her way out the door when she heard what had happened.

“I was in the process of leaving the clinic because it was the end of the day and students had already been released to go home,” she said. “Upon leaving, SRO Campbell informed me of a diabetic emergency occurring at the bus stop. I dropped everything and ran to the bus stop where I found a student lying unconscious.”

Sevier staff members surrounded Waddell and tried to take care of him.

“I don’t even remember [Johnson] being there,” Waddell said.

With an emergency happening, Johnson jumped into action.

“Kingston’s blood sugar had dropped dangerously low causing him to have a diabetic seizure,” Johnson said. “I administered his glucagon and within a few minutes checked his blood sugar to see where his level was. I continued to stay by his side until the ambulance arrived.”

Glucagon is an emergency medicine to treat dangerously low blood sugar levels.

“It’s not because I ate too much, it’s a disease that I can’t help,” Waddell said.

After his seizure, Waddell was taken to a hospital.

“They gave me some scans to make sure I wasn’t injured,” he said.

Both Waddell and Johnson believe school nurses are an important part of middle school.

“It’s common sense to have nurses at school,” Waddell said. “Not just for sick kids, but for people that have medical problems or maybe people who get injured.”

Johnson agreed.

“It is so important to have a nurse at every school,” she said. “A school nurse gives daily medications to students who require them, takes care of injuries that occur during and outside of school time, provides care for students who require lots of daily monitoring and management such as Type 1 Diabetics, and is also specially trained to handle the multitude of emergencies that can occur at any given time.”

Waddell was sure to thank Johnson, but hasn’t spoken much about the incident.

“I am embarrassed by the incident, so I didn’t want to talk about it too much,” he said.

Johnson has some advice for students with Type 1 Diabetes like Waddell.

“Always listen to your body,” she said. “No one knows your body as you do. If something feels off or just not right, let a staff member know and go see your school’s nurse. Also, always have a buddy. If you know or feel like your blood sugar is low, find your buddy and walk with them to the clinic.”

In the end, Waddell is just grateful for all the staff members at Sevier Middle.

“Thank your janitor, teacher, lunch lady and nurse,” he said.