Life prolonged thanks to school custodians

Three Gotsch Intermediate School employees who went above and beyond the call of duty were recently recognized at a ceremony at the school.

Principal Brian Smith gathered almost 200 fifth graders and their teachers in the library on March 1 for a special presentation by Missouri Rep. Bob Burns (D-Affton) honoring custodians Emira Adilovic, Laura Showalter and Tim Showers.

With Affton School District Superintendant Steve Brotherton, school board vice president Doug Beck and school board member Larry Knox looking on, Burns approached the podium and explained to the students, “Today we honor three custodians who went above and beyond, and were great citizens – they helped save a man’s life.”

Election Day in November 2012 was wrapping up in the gym of Gotsch Intermediate School on Laclede Station Road. The poll workers were packing up when one gentleman headed to the restroom. When the man left the bathroom, he fell to the ground.

“I saw him drop, and I rolled him over,” Showers said. “I knew it was a heart attack – the same thing my father had. I recognized it right away. He wasn’t breathing. I yelled for Emira. We both know CPR.”

Adilovic originally honed her First Aid skills in her native Bosnia.

“I worked as a newspaper typist and everyone who applied for a job in Bosnia had to know First Aid,” she explained. “I had more training in 2006 in the U.S. after my family moved here.”

Those teachers and staff members certified to use the Automated External Defibrillator were gone for the day, but Adilovic knew how to use it. While she performed CPR and used the defibrillator on the heart attack victim, Showers called 911 and Showalter ran outside to watch for the ambulance.

“The gym where the polls were is around the back of the building,” Showalter said. “If they had gone to the front of the school, EMS would have found the doors locked. I ran around to the front to direct them.”

When St. Louis County and Shrewbury first responders arrived, the victim was breathing again. Unfortunately, he died a few days later at a local hospital.

“It’s sad,” Adilovic said. “I hoped I saved him. I’d do it again. I might be a Democrat, but it doesn’t matter what party you are, I’ll still help. It’s just me, I just go – I just help.”

Showalter said she’s glad the man got a few more days with his family after having the heart attack.

“Later, his family brought us flowers and they got a little closure,” she said. “It was heartwarming, though, to see my staff members work so hard when I called for them – they always respond when I ask them to – they are very good employees!”

Rep. Bob Burns was also effusive in his praise.

“I am so proud of these three individuals who saved a life – prolonged a life – that night,” he said. “The custodians are around the children all the time – they influence the children, and this is a meaningful example of good citizenship.”

Burns presented Adilovic, Showalter and Showers with a framed proclamation from the Mo. House of Representatives recognizing their actions. The proclamation was also signed by Rep. Genise Montecillo (D-92), who was unable to attend.

“I only wish I could have honored them sooner,” Burns said. “I was just elected and had to wait until January to be sworn in first.”

Showalter said she’ll hang the proclamation on her wall. “My kids will be proud of me, and someday my grandkids,” she said.

Gotsch students are proud of their custodians. “With this proclamation,” said student Chris Walsh, “You can remember the event – they will never forget it!”

Student Max Brentlinger added: “The best achievement you can get is to save a life.”