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East Burke senior credited for saving life

posted Feb 12, 2016, 10:35 AM by Bcps Bcps   [ updated Feb 12, 2016, 10:36 AM ]

A decision for East Burke High School senior James Crossno to visit a friend at work turned out to be a lifesaving decision for one of the friend’s coworkers. James was at a grocery store in Valdese on Tuesday, Feb. 2 when he heard a commotion.

“The workers were running around and yelling and looked scared,” James said. “I went to see what was going on and saw one of the workers on the ground. His head was bleeding from where he struck it. I just knew I had to respond somehow.”

James has his CPR certification, which he earned in his nursing fundamentals class at East Burke High School, and is taking the Emergency Medical Technician-Basic course at Catawba Valley Community College.

That training kicked in, and James instinctively jumped into action.

“The man was not breathing or responsive, and they said he had clutched his chest before he went down,” James said. “I couldn’t find a pulse, and I just knew then that I had to assist with CPR.”

The man’s co-workers called 911 and found a nurse in the store to help, too, as they waited for firsts responder to arrive. James said he did chest compressions for five to 10 minutes and continued even after the first responders got there.

“They told me it was important not to stop,” James said of the CPR.

While in the moment, James focused on saving the man’s life. But once the man was in the ambulance and on his way to the hospital, the gravity of what had just occurred hit hard.

“I broke down and cried,” James said. “I was in shock. It was a very scary situation, but at the time I was not thinking anything but, ‘there’s this guy in front of me that’s not alive and not breathing, and I have to help him.’ I thank God I was there. I wasn’t even supposed to be there that day. I had just stopped by on a whim to see my friend.”

James has since received a text from a friend of the man’s who said the man is still in the hospital but doing well.

In the week since, James has received lots of questions from friends at school who have found out about the events of that Tuesday. In addition to answering their questions, he uses the opportunity to spread the word about the importance of learning CPR.

“James saved this man's life by what he learned in his Health Science classes,” said Jennifer Fulbright, James’ Health Science teacher at East Burke. “We are so proud of him.”

But James is not taking all the credit himself. “I want to just thank the Burke County EMS crew and the first responders who were on scene for their quick and helpful response. I also want to thank the others who assisted me with the man such as the nurses and other workers, because without them, that guy probably would not have lived.”

James plans to finish the EMT program at CVCC and then transfer to East Carolina University for a nursing degree. He wants to work as an ER nurse.

He already has the experience of this real emergency situation to add to his resume. “I didn’t expect to be in an emergency situation this early in my life,” James said. 


Public Relations Officer
Burke County Public Schools
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