It started out as a normal recruiting day for Sgt. Timothy Miller of Parkersburg station in West Virginia. He was manning his table at St. Marys High School when suddenly he heard a commotion coming from the special needs room just down the hall.
A teacher came out and ran past him and got the principal. As they went into the room, more commotion could be heard and the principal quickly came back out, ran down the hallway, and told his secretary to call 911.
It sounded serious, so Miller asked if there was anything he could do to help. The principal told him that they had everything under control and went back into the room. But it only took a few minutes before the principal came out again and asked if he knew CPR. Miller told him that he was a combat lifesaver and could help.
Sgt. Timothy Miller
As he went into the room, he saw a young man named Shawn laying there. He was completely gray with his eyes rolled back.
"When I saw the state he was in, I realized it was a lot worse than what I had expected," said Miller. "I thought he was still choking and still breathing, but then I saw how gray he was and that he had no pulse at all... that's when I knew how very serous the situation was."
At the time, there were already two teachers who had tried to work on him, but they didn't know what else to do. They told Miller they had tried the Heimlich maneuver but couldn't get the food out and so they tried to give him CPR.
Miller's training gave him the insight that the CPR was just pushing the food down farther, so he picked the young man up and performed the Heimlich maneuver about eight or nine times. Finally the food came up and a quick sweep got the rest of it from his throat.
Since the student still hadn't begun breathing and was bleeding out of his mouth, Miller immediately began CPR. After approximately one-and-a-half minutes, the student started coughing and started breathing as he opened his eyes again.
"Immediately afterwards, my adrenaline was rushing and I was pretty emotional so it didn't end up being a very productive table set up. By the time the incident was over, I was covered in sweat with my heart pounding as fast as it could. I just went back out in the hallway, packed my stuff, and came back to the office for the day," said Miller.
According to the principal and the board of education director, the medical staff said that for as long as the student had been out, and the time it took the ambulance to arrive, he would have had serious brain damage or even died.
"It's the first time as a recruiter I've had to use these skills on a civilian...though I've used them a few times while on deployment. Now, every time Shawn sees me at the school he comes over, shakes my hand, and gives me a hug," Miller said.
All of the faculty at the school know what happened, and now every time Miller goes into the building they're shaking his hand, thanking him, and telling him to have a good day. He said it's definitely opened up a lot of opportunities for him at the school.
Miller volunteered to go to combat lifesaving training in 2000.
"I've always wanted to have the extra training in case I ever needed it. I have an eight-year-old daughter at home and you never know when you might need training like that. Though I received an ARCOM for my actions, personally knowing I saved the young man's life was the only thing that really mattered to me. I appreciate the award, but the most important thing is that the young man is still alive because of what I did."
Miller is the husband of May Miller and the son-in-law of Colin and Ann Doig of Sistersville.