Chris Kinsel, a 14-year-old Saint Rose Grammar School student, was in religion class Monday handing his teacher an assignment when she, without warning, collapsed at his feet, he said.
Not knowing exactly what was wrong with her as she lay on the floor unconscious, the eighth-grader from Belmar bolted out the door and down three flights of stairs to the nurse’s office to report what had happened, he said.
He later learned that his teacher, Deirdre Badach, had suffered a heart attack right there in the classroom and if he hadn’t reacted so quickly, some said she might not be alive today.
“I didn’t know what to think. Her body just turned to Jell-O,” Kinsel said on Wednesday. “I just ran out of the room and ran downstairs and got the nurse.”
The school nurse, Mary McDermott, rushed up to the third-floor classroom and began giving Badach CPR until the paramedics arrived, School Principal Bill Roberts said.
When the paramedics did arrive, they had to use a defibrillator to revive the teacher, Roberts said.
“Our nurse being there was also a huge part of (saving Badach), but Chris (Kinsel) got the ball rolling,” Roberts said. “The paramedic’s reaction was that it was a life-saving effort.”
On his way down the stairs to alert the nurse, Kinsel crossed paths with Roberts, who ended up making the 9-1-1 call and watching over Badach and the class with another teacher until the nurse arrived, Roberts said.
Once McDermott made it up the stairs, Roberts and the other teacher, Bonnie Scherr, helped move the students into the library while Badach was tended to, Roberts said.
Kinsel said he hasn’t had a chance to speak to Badach since the incident, but he heard through the grapevine that she was worried she scared her students.
“She said she loves us all,” Kinsel said.
And perhaps in a twist of fate, Kinsel said he almost stayed home from school sick that day.
“My mom said I probably saved her life,” he said. “It wasn’t until after I got home when I realized what I did was probably an important part of saving her life.”
Later that night Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty paid a visit to Kinsel’s home to thank him personally for his actions, Kinsel said.
Doherty could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but Roberts said the mayor told him that Kinsel would most likely be acknowledged at the next Borough Council meeting Jan. 18.
“He’s just a real good all-around student,” Roberts said.
Badach, after having a stent put in one of her arteries, was in stable condition Wednesday and expects to be released Thursday, Roberts said. But it will still be at least two months before she can return to work, he said.
Kinsel, a student council representative, and his classmates have begun collecting donations to purchase gift cards to Badach’s favorite restaurants for when she’s feeling better, he said.