Four members of the faculty of a northwest school were honoured by Alberta EMS on Friday for their actions to help a student who collapsed in gym class.

Days into the 2018-2019 school year, Maryam Basharat was running outside with the other members of her class when she fell and went into cardiac arrest.

“I got down on my knees and tried to tell if she had a pulse or was breathing and there was nothing,” said Jillian Wright, a Grade 8 & 9 teacher. “So I started chest compressions and breaths.”

Thomas Guenther, who teaches grades 5 -9, says it’s the first time he’s encountered a student in the midst of such a severe medical episode.

“It’s very uncommon,” said Guenther. “My dad is a retired teacher and he said he never dealt with anything to this extent. Never even heard of what I was looking at.”

“I had no idea what I was looking at but very happy with the outcome at the end.”

Staff members called 911 and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  The school’s AED (automated external defibrillator) was utilized to restart her heart.

The responding paramedic crew, which included Paul Emmerson, said the teachers acted fast and did everything right.

Maryam spent nearly four weeks in hospital recovering before returning to school

On Friday, the four staff members - Wright, Guenther, Bryan Allen and Liana Appelt -were recognized by Alberta Health Service for their efforts on that September day.

“It’s a little overwhelming because I don’t even think that I was thinking, you just react,” said Wright. “I’m just happy we had everything in place like an AED in the school and training so we could allow her to have the best outcome possible.”

Emmerson had an opportunity to meet with Maryam at the ceremony. “Seeing her smiling, seeing her stand up, makes me choke up a little bit. It’s good. She gave me a big hug. Being a paramedic is a fantastic job. I love to help people and seeing it is out of this world.”

Maryam is now a healthy 11-year-old after undergoing a procedure to have a device permanently installed to shock her heart when an irregular heart beat is detected. The preteen plans to learn CPR in the near future.

With files from CTV’s Kevin Fleming