Editor’s note: US drama teacher Jeff Draper received this e-mail in early May from Diane Kitamura, a guest at a hotel where Anthony Chen, Gr. 12, was also staying.
“I am compelled to write this e-mail concerning one of your students, Anthony Chen, who I had the opportunity to meet this past weekend in Los Angeles. When I say opportunity, it truly was by chance that we met under a circumstance where we had to deal with a medical emergency together in the hotel in which we were both staying.
“At approximately 2 a.m., I was walking … back to my room on the ninth floor when a woman in her nightgown came running out of her room screaming for help and to call 911. She was speaking in English and Korean and saying there was something wrong with her husband. She was quite hysterical. I had (an) intern with me who is bilingual in both English and Korean whom I told to assist the woman while I went down stairs to get help, because the door had shut behind the woman so we could not get back into the room to help her husband.
“The woman had tried to call the front desk but there was no answer. I went downstairs to get help and found a security/hotel staff person to get to the room because there was a medical emergency and we could not get into the room to what was wrong with the man.
“Security finally arrived at the scene to open the door. The man was lying on the bed and appeared to be unresponsive and possibly not breathing. Security was on my intern’s cell phone talking to 911 which asked in anyone knew CPR.
“Anthony was staying in the room next door and heard all of the commotion and was watching the situation. When security asked if someone knew CPR, Anthony volunteered since he had just completed the CPR course a month prior. Anthony immediately got on the phone to 911 when he saw the man’s chest and realized he might have had heart surgery because of a large surgical scar down the middle of his chest.
“He reported this to the 911 operator and was told to move the man to the floor and check for breathing. Anthony determined the man was breathing although it was barely detectable.
“I took the woman and had her begin packing items and changing clothes as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. The gentleman woke up and was incoherent and very angry about a situation that occurred earlier in the evening. Anthony, along with my intern who translated for 911, continued to stay with the man until paramedics arrived.
“Paramedics arrived and transported the man to the hospital where he stayed overnight. I met with the man and woman yesterday and they reported that the man had had a mild heart attack and is unable to fly for another two weeks.
“The couple were very grateful for Anthony’s help in this emergency situation. He was calm, cool and collected during the situation and represented The Harker School well. As a former assistant superintendent, I would be very proud of Anthony and I know you must all be proud as well of the tremendous courage and leadership Anthony demonstrated during this situation.”
Turns out Chen took CPR at Harker earlier this year. “The incident has made me appreciate life so much more,” he said. “The pure feeling of having a man’s life literally in your hands is enough to make anyone appreciate everything that this life has given us. I really encourage everyone to take CPR certification classes because at any moment and anytime you may be the only person in the entire place that knows CPR and can save a person’s life.”
Harker plans a small ceremony to honor Chen in late May.