Rescue Plan Aces Test at School: Psychologist was in right place, right time during cardiac arrest in Marcellus

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January 30, 2006
By Debra J. Groom
Staff writer
January 25, 2006 – Hans Smid wasn’t supposed to go to a meeting at Heffernan Elementary School Monday morning.
But on Friday, principal Gary Bissaillon asked him to attend.
Good thing.
Smid, 38, psychologist at the Marcellus elementary school, suffered cardiac arrest in Bissaillon’s office during Monday’s meeting.
Driver Middle School nurse Debbie Bowman used an automated external defibrillator to shock him back to life. Bissaillon and reading teacher Susan Decker performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Smid’s wife, Mary, said he is doing better while recuperating at Crouse Hospital. Smid, who will be 39 on Feb. 9, will be in the hospital about a week, she said.
“There was no plan for him to be in this meeting, but Gary Bissaillon said ‘Why don’t you come join us?’ ” Mary Smid said. “If he had been alone in his office, that would have been it. He was at the right place at the right time.”
Bowman and Bissaillon said Smid, of LaFayette, collapsed about 8:15 a.m.
“He had just walked into the elementary office and he collapsed to the floor,” Bowman said.
Bissaillon said the secretary called 911 and he and Decker, who was there for the meeting, began CPR. They called Bowman because the Heffernan school nurse wasn’t on duty yet.
The three Marcellus schools are all on one campus.
“I ran up the hill (from Driver to Heffernan),” Bowman said. “I flew. I got there in 30 to 60 seconds.”
She called for the AED, which was in the nurse’s office across the hall from the main office.
“Mr. Bissaillon was doing compressions and I was doing mouth-to-mouth. Then we got the pads on him and shocked him twice,” Bowman said.
After the second shock from the AED, Smid had a strong pulse and was coming around. The rescue squad pulled up at the same time, and the emergency medical technicians took over.
She and Bissaillon said it was only two to three minutes between the time he collapsed and the AED shocked his heart back to rhythm.
Smid suffered cardiac arrest, which is when the heart suddenly stops beating. The person is actually dead at that moment.
“The only thing that saved him was the AED,” Bowman said.
Mary Smid said her husband had two surgeries to correct heart valve problems and has taken medication for irregular heartbeat. The drug company recently stopped making the medication.
“He had ventricular fibrillation. The heart pumps so fast that it pumps the blood out but can’t get any blood back in,” Mary Smid said. “He actually turned blue.”
Marcellus Superintendent Timothy Barstow said the district got the AEDs a couple of years ago through a state grant. “They really saved him. This is pretty amazing stuff,” Barstow said.
Bowman said the district’s emergency plan worked like a charm. “Everything was in place. Everything worked well. It was amazing,” she said.
“We are very thankful and grateful that the people there knew what to do,” Mary Smid said.
Staff writer Debra J. Groom can be reached at 470-2198 or by e-mail at
© 2006 The Post-Standard. UStandard. Used with permission.