North Merrick district officials are praising the lifesaving efforts of an elementary school nurse who sprang into action when a longtime aide collapsed Thursday afternoon.
Mari Titterton, 57, was in her office at Camp Avenue Elementary School when faculty members called for help about 1:40 p.m. She found the aide in a hallway on the second floor -- unconscious, not breathing and without a pulse.
Running behind her was substitute nurse Susan Heaphy, carrying one of the school's two Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs.
Titterton's training kicked in.
"You just go into autopilot," she said Friday. "You do what you have to do."
Still emotional while describing those intense moments, Titterton said she and Heaphy took turns performing CPR. When the aide did not respond, Titterton applied the AED pads to the woman's chest.
"The AED shocked her, and all of a sudden we felt a pulse," said Titterton, a North Merrick resident who has been a school nurse for 13 years, six of those at Camp Avenue Elementary.
When emergency medical technicians from the North Merrick Fire Department arrived, district Superintendent David Feller said, the aide was conscious and breathing. She was even speaking before EMTs took her to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, Titterton said.
School officials would not release the name of the stricken woman but said she is recuperating. She has worked at the school for 16 years and lives nearby, walking to and from her job, where her duties include watching over students during lunch and recess.
When students found out she won't be back immediately, they asked, "Who's going to help us play kickball?" Principal Ron Reinken said.
"I am very proud of Mari," he said. "It's comforting to have people around you that can respond under such pressure."
Titterton will be honored at the district's Oct. 14 school board meeting, Feller said. The fire department also plans to recognize her with a citation at an upcoming meeting, he said.
"I am remarkably proud of how quick our staff handled it," Feller said.
Titterton was CPR-certified by physical education teacher Karen Nolan, who also ran to help, bringing the school's second AED. Faculty and students were told to stay in their classrooms as Titterton, Heaphy, Nolan, Reinken and the EMTs worked to stabilize the woman.
"All I can say is, it's a miracle, on the day of 9/11," Titterton said.