News stories

Brooklyn teacher saves woman’s life

School safety CPR training was key to lunch-break heroics

Brooklyn teacher saves woman’s life - 1Miller PhotographyAfter saving a life, it’s back to the three R’s at PS 17 for 4th-grade teacher Cassandra Byrd-Scolaro.

After saving a life, it’s back to the three R’s at PS 17 for 4th-grade teacher Cassandra Byrd- Scolaro.She went out for a chicken wrap and came back a lifesaver. Cassandra Byrd-Scolaro, a 4th-grade teacher at PS 17, was at a local Williamsburg restaurant for lunch just before noon on March 21 when she heard a commotion.

A waitress had just broken into a bathroom stall, revealing the body of a lifeless young woman.

Within seconds, Byrd-Scolaro was administering compressions until EMS arrived and took the revived victim to the hospital.

Later the 10-year teacher recalled, “Everything was moving so fast. There were shouts to call 911. She looked dead and had no pulse. I tried to administer CPR but the space was too narrow so we moved her. I had to rip her shirt to begin compressions.”

Detectives coincidentally at the restaurant also responded to the emergency, challenging her as she knelt to start CPR: “Who are you? Let us handle this.”

But Byrd-Scolaro had work to do. “I’m a trained responder,” she told them and went about her work of saving a life.

Shortly after the emergency, medical workers arrived and the victim’s heart began beating.

“We heard a gurgling and knew she was coming back,” Byrd-Scolaro said.

Past her initial shock and without a thought of her lifesaving accomplishment, she took her food and headed back for afternoon classes. But not before the restaurant told her that her lunch was “on the house.”

Principal Robert Marchi had only praise for her actions, telling reporters, “She does it because it’s the right thing to do, not because of any accolades. She’s just a good person who is the epitome of what a good teacher is all about.”

Within an hour, NY1 was covering the story. “News gets around so fast,” she said, “I’m glad this was good news.”

It was the first time Byrd-Scolaro has been called on to use her CPR training. As a volunteer member of the PS 17 Safety Committee since its inception, she has received the required CPR training every two years.

The lunchtime hero described the experience as “overwhelming.”

“I come to work every day. An ordinary person,” she said. “I don’t expect things like this to happen. But it feels good.”
 

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