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Herricks Middle School staff honored for saving Sanketh Kumar’s life

Sanketh Kumar, who was running in gym glass

Sanketh Kumar, who was running in gym glass at Herricks Middle School last month when he inexplicably had a heart attack, in his living room with his mom Achala and father Gopal at home on Oct. 11, 2016 in Williston Park. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The eight staff members at Herricks Middle School who saved a student’s life when the eighth grader had a heart attack last month were honored Tuesday with the New York State Senate Liberty Medal.

State Sen. Jack Martins presented the staff of the Albertson school with their medals, the highest civilian honor a New York resident can receive, at the school, his office said. The award typically goes to those who have completed “exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts and achievements.”

The awardees included Principal Joan Keegan; Assistant Principal Tom Aird; physical education teachers Artie Friess, Dennis Horton, Pam Seebald and Joe Welsh; and nurses Dana Lieberman and Tracey Baumann.

“The immediate and coordinated response by these eight men and women, working as a team, undoubtedly saved a young boy’s life and prevented a tragedy,” Martins said in a statement.

Sanketh Kumar, 13, was jogging around the school track during gym class on Sept. 14 when his pulse became weak and he collapsed. School staff rushed to get the other students off the field and aided Kumar, who required CPR and an AED machine to restart his heart.

Kumar, of Williston Park, was taken to the hospital, where it was determined he had had a heart attack, his family said.

After his return to school, his father, Gopal Kumar, said the family held a birthday celebration for Sanketh, including a special dinner with the school staff who saved his life.

The eighth grader now has a special device in his heart to shock it into working properly if needed. He’ll be able to play baseball, his favorite sport, again in a few weeks, the teen said in an interview with Newsday earlier this month..


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