Straight from the ‘heart’

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2022

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GATESVILLE – A 16-year-old Gates County High School sophomore is alive thanks to the heroics, and hours of training, of a group of teachers and staff.

February 24 began as a normal day at the school, but it didn’t end that way. Around mid-day, Jaylen Beamon had just finished up one of his classes and was walking in a hallway with a few friends when he collapsed.

Immediately alerted to the incident, GCHS staff went to work on saving Beamon. He was in cardiac arrest and it took every ounce of training by those teachers and staff, to include performing CPR and using an AED unit to shock his heart back into rhythm, to ensure the teen would live to see another day.

Beamon, who later underwent surgery to implant a defibrillator – a device that monitors heart rate and delivers a strong electrical shock to restore the heartbeat to normal in the event of tachycardia – is now recovering at home and counting down the days until he’s able to return to school.

“Jaylen is doing good….resting up and getting stronger,” said his mother, Sakara Miller. “He’s a trooper. It’s a process to go through…taking his medications and following doctor’s orders.

“What we plan to do is after his first follow-up appointment with the doctor, if everything is clear at that time, Jaylen will return to school,” she added.”

Miller said she was amazed to learn of the amount of medical training available at the school.

“We are so grateful and appreciative that they were trained to handle such high level medical events such as a heart attack. They immediately jumped into action. They saved my son’s life,” she stressed.

The actions of those who saved the teen’s life did not go unnoticed by the Gates County Board of Education at their regularly scheduled meeting last week. There, Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Schools, paid special recognition to the teachers and staff that came to Beamon’s aid.

“Each school year our faculty and staff are required to participate in trainings to promote the health and safety of our students and staff,” Dr. Williams said in his remarks to the school board. “We do trainings for blood borne pathogens, tornado drills, fire drills, lockdowns, and CPR and AED, to name a few.

“While everyone participates in the trainings, it is very rare that we put the trainings into action,” Dr. Williams added. “I am so proud to say that staff members at Gates County High School were placed in a situation on February 24th where they used their CPR and AED training in an emergency situation and saved the life of one of our students.

“Tonight we would like to recognize the following Gates County Schools heroes for their quick, poised, and decisive action taken to save the life of a Gates County High School student on Feb. 24,” Dr. Williams stated.

Gates County Schools Hero Award plaques were presented to, in no particular order, Matt Biggy, Renee Kittrell, Whitney Farmer, Renee Perry, Don Hudson, Rebecca Leary, Courtney Jones, LaWanda Daughtery, Joan Bundy, Ann Harrell, Samantha Matthews, Graylen Boone, Kristal Brooks, Megan Hudson, Robert Jordan, Jacob Harrell, Lovie Roscoe, and Susan Casper.

Miller, along with her mother-in-law, Julia Beamon (Jaylen’s grandmother), attended the school board meeting and made remarks on behalf of the family.

“Thanks to each and every one of you for allowing God to use you because without you my son wouldn’t be here today,” Miller said. “It’s definitely a drastic change in our life, but it’s a change for the better and without you it could have gone the other way. I’m so grateful; my family is so grateful for all that you do…not just for that day, but every day.

“I don’t know what I would do without Jaylen,” she added. “I can’t describe how my life, the life of my family, would be had that day gone another way. I’m blessed and may God bless you guys and keep ya’ll in his mercy and grace.”

“Praise God for ya’ll. I’m so, so grateful for each and every one of you and all that you did to save my grandson,” stressed Mrs. Beamon, a former classroom teacher for Gates County Schools whose career spanned nearly 32 years.

She added that Jaylen’s heart condition was “a hereditary thing.”

“My husband was diagnosed with it in 1976, and later the same happened to my son,” Beamon remarked. “Thank you for saving my Jaylen.

“I thank God for all of you, for all your training, you all did a beautiful job and I love the Gates County School System. Please continue to keep my family in your prayers,” she added.

Ray Felton, Chair of the Gates County Board of Education, spoke on behalf of his colleagues.

“A hero is a person that does extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances,” Felton said. “That’s what we learned about here tonight. I dare say that not one of you, when you came to school that morning, that you could’ve or would’ve performed as you did that you would say it’s a piece of cake. I saw people come up here with tears in their eyes because they didn’t believe they could make so much difference. Thank you for making a difference every day, but especially on that one day [Feb. 24].”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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