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Surprise Independent

West-MEC student in Surprise saves coworkers’ life


Tiffany McFall was working her typical shift as a deck attendant at Aqua-Tots Swim School in north Phoenix in early August when an emergency situation called her into action.

An Aqua-Tots swim instructor who has a history of seizures in her past could usually sense when she wasn’t feeling well and would be able to remove herself from the situation. This time was different for her, and she began seizing while she was in the pool teaching a children’s swim class.

While McFall isn’t a lifeguard there, she patrols the swim deck and provides an additional set of eyes to keep watch and ensure everyone is safe while in the water. Without the help of McFall, the situation with the instructor could have been much worse.

“I had no experience rescuing someone who had a seizure, but earlier that day we were learning about what to do if a patient has a seizure,” McFall said. “If I didn’t learn about that at West-MEC that day, it’s possible she wouldn’t be here right now.”

McFall is a nursing student at Western Maricopa Education Center at its Northwest Campus in Surprise. In her nursing program that very day, McFall learned how to respond to and care for someone who is having a seizure. This was the first time McFall received instruction on seizure first aid, so it was serendipitous timing.

McFall noticed the instructor was unresponsive and that her head was close to submerging underwater. McFall quickly recognized the signs of a seizure and jumped into action to perform the proper techniques to keep her safe.

McFall immediately entered the pool and kept the instructor’s head out of the water. Then, she performed the necessary procedures for getting her out of the water safely.

“The whole situation, it felt like I had done it for years. There was no pause or anxiety; my biggest thing was staying calm even though I had a big adrenaline rush in that moment,” McFall said.

“It’s something that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life,” she added. “It’s the first time I helped someone in a situation like this where their life was on the line. Not only am I happy I helped her, but I’m also happy I had the ability to know what to do in that scenario.”

McFall, like most students at West-MEC, said she loves the hands-on and simulated real-life scenario training they receive. As a result, McFall has excelled at West-MEC in the one-year nursing program that began in August and just received a full-ride scholarship offer to Grand Canyon University’s nursing program next year. She said she is proud of her accomplishments thus far and her success in the classroom has inspired her family as well.

“My mom told me, ‘Tiffany, you’ve inspired me to go back to school,’” McFall said. “It’s crazy, I inspired my mom to go back to college to pursue a higher degree. I also inspired my younger sister because she told me she wants to be a nurse or veterinarian when she grows up.”

McFall is full of determination and has always pursued her goals no matter what – the first time she applied to West-MEC’s nursing program, she did not get accepted. Instead of giving up she continued to work hard and applied, again.

“At West-MEC, we prepare students for real-life situations and it’s amazing,” said Nursing Program Director Tamara Greabell. “Tiffany was able to use the skills she learned here to help somebody. She’s been an outstanding student and I’m looking forward to continuing teaching her the rest of the year. She has a great future ahead of her.”

McFall’s ultimate career goal is to become an anesthesiologist.

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