When Geneva High School athletic trainer Nicole Collins volunteers to accompany the school’s homecoming dance on September 17, little did she know she would end up helping a student in a medical emergency.
After senior Bridget Archbold, 17, collapsed and stopped breathing while dancing in the school gym, Collins jumped into work administering CPR.
“People call me a hero, and yes, I would call myself a hero, but in my mind I was doing my job. If I hadn’t been there, the outcome could have been a lot different,” Collins said. “I know I saved her life. It’s something I’m trained to do… respond to emergencies.”
Collins, who graduated from Geneva High School in 2013, was supervising students outside the gym when she heard the music abruptly stop around 9 p.m. She said that when she entered the gym to see what had happened, she saw a school principal carrying Bridget.
“I checked her pulse, and there was no pulse,” Collins said. “I rolled her back on her side, and as soon as she was on her back I started CPR and did compressions.” “I asked the (school) principal to bring the (automated external defibrillator) out of the gym, and another official cleared the gym. There was a Geneva police officer (at dancing) who called an ambulance. I did two rounds of CPR and in the second round I started coughing And she came.”
Archbold said she does not remember falling to the ground or undergoing CPR. She said that when she woke up, the gym was empty and she felt very disoriented.
“I started crying because I felt like I was spoiling (the dance) for everyone,” she said. “It hurts to see my classmates are so upset about what happened to me. When I went back to school, everyone was so worried and said they were glad I was fine.”
Paramedics rushed Bridget to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva, where she underwent tests. She was sent home later that night. Bridget said tests showed she didn’t have any heart problems, but that she had an epileptic fit.
Bridget’s father, Jeff Archbold, said his heart “almost stopped” when he got a call from the school about what had happened to his daughter. He said he was very grateful to have Collins at the dance.
“It’s so scary to get a call from the school on Saturday night to hear that your child has collapsed, had a seizure and stopped breathing,” he said. “I am very happy that our schools take the time to train the staff on how to perform CPR. Precious time passes quickly when a person is in physical distress. Nicole’s ability to recognize a situation and act quickly was amazing. It was truly a team effort of the school. So, the staff shined GHS really got into that dance night. They taught us a great lesson in what it means to be ready.”
Bridget will have more tests to determine the cause of the seizure. She said she was “scared” and “stressed” because she does not yet have a definitive diagnosis.
“Eventually we will find out (the cause of the seizure), but I don’t want it to limit my activity and my activities,” she said.
Bridget and Collins had never met before the homecoming dance. When she returned to school, Bridget brought Collins flowers, a mug, and a handwritten note to thank her.
“It was really cool seeing her,” Bridget said. “I feel like she saved my life. If she hadn’t been there, they might have been waiting for CPR, and I could have died.” “The shock of what happened has not gone away.”
Collins said Bridget gave her “the biggest hug” when they met.
“I feel so much better when I see her walk into my practice room and see that she’s getting the follow-up care she needs,” Collins said. “The principal came to me to make sure I was okay, and thanked me for being (in the dance) and all the teachers came and thanked me. It makes me feel good, because that’s what I’ve been trained to do.”