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RMS Staff Members Commended for Life-Saving Action

February 27, 2019

Radnor Middle School Staff Members Commended for Life-Saving Action, Thanked by Family of Rescued Grandfather

Heath Family and RMS Staff Members Using their training and taking decisive action, Radnor Middle School assistant principal Ryan Buterbaugh; nurse Carolyn Seaton; and Physical Education and Health teachers Amanda Lewis and Eric Ruffenach were instrumental in saving a person’s life on January 24. For their extraordinary efforts, the four staff members were formally commended by the RTSD School Board at the Board's February 26 monthly meeting. The ceremony also featured the reading of a letter of gratitude by family members of Mr. Ronald Heath, the gentleman who was rescued by RMS staff a little more than a month ago.

"Ronald Heath is a loving husband of more than 50 years, father to three, grandfather to six, and friend to many," said his son Christian Heath at the meeting. "He would have been sorely missed. But it was not his time. Saying thank you to all of those that acted to keep our family in tact at such a critical moment does not seem to be adequate enough for what was done."

On January 24, Mr. Heath fell ill and collapsed to the ground at the RMS entrance. A grandfather of an RMS 6th-grader, Mr. Heath was first attended to by Mr. Buterbaugh, who had witnessed the incident and immediately provided assistance. Mr. Buterbaugh called for a nurse and notified his colleagues using the staff communications system. Upon realizing Mr. Heath was unresponsive, Mr. Buterbaugh also called 911.

Ms. Seaton arrived on the scene, assessed the situation, and began administering CPR. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Lewis and Mr. Ruffenach -- both having attended a training in August in CPR, Stop the Bleed, and First Aid by the Radnor Police in conjunction with RTSD -- arrived in response to Mr. Buterbaugh’s call. Mr. Ruffenach retrieved a nearby automated external defibrillator (AED) while Ms. Lewis aided in CPR.

The staff members continued to assist and monitor Mr. Heath for several minutes, coaxing him to breath on his own just as emergency responders arrived. Interestingly, one of the first police officers on the scene was Radnor Police Officer Mark Bates, the same officer who had trained the district’s Physical Education and Health teachers in CPR, Stop the Bleed, and First Aid in August.

"Due to the outstanding efforts of Mr. Buterbaugh, Ms. Lewis, Mr. Ruffenach and Ms. Seaton, Mr. Heath survived the ordeal and is now on the road to recovery," Superintendent Kenneth E. Batchelor read from the commendation at the Feb. 26 meeting. "The actions of these four Radnor Middle School personnel were extraordinary. Each individual immediately turned to his or her educational experience and training to respond to and successfully manage a singularly stressful and emotional event."

Members of Mr. Heath's family were in attendance at the ceremony, including his wife of 50 years, Betsy; his son Christian Heath; his granddaughter and Radnor High School senior Blake Heath; his daughter Nicole Neely; and his granddaughter Naila Neely. Mr. Heath is recovering and was unable to attend.

"He could have fallen anywhere, but we are so grateful that it occurred in front of the school and witnessed by Mr. Buterbaugh who acted quickly to engage the school personnel, especially the nurse and others that were certified in CPR until paramedics could arrive," Christian Heath said. "We know that your quick actions, and the school’s training to handle such matters, saved his life."

All RTSD Physical Education/Health teachers have been trained in CPR, First Aid, and Stop the Bleed within the past year. Last year, for the first time, students in 8th and 10th grades were provided CPR training through the American Heart Association. This year, this training expanded to include First Aid and Stop the Bleed. All AED kits in district schools also contain Stop the Bleed kits.

Pictured above, left: Mr. Ronald Heath and wife Betsy; and right: members of the Heath family, including Mr. Heath's son, daughter and granddaugthers, pose with Ryan Buterbaugh, Amanda Lewis, Caroline Seaton and Eric Ruffenach at the Feb. 26 School Board meeting.