Summit students recognized for life-saving actions |

Summit students recognized for life-saving actions

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Special to the DailySchool resource officer Rebecca Johnson stands with life-saving award winners Jordan Nelson, left, and Hayden Hedman. Both boys were cited for swift action in crisis situations.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Two local students received life-saving awards this week for stepping up to help during crises: a teacher struck by a cherry picker lift and a boy who choked on a lollipop.

Hayden Hedman, 18, was a senior cleaning up the varsity gym after homecoming last October when math teacher Kristin Yankowski was struck by a falling lift.

“Hayden’s the one who called 911,” said Yankowski, who continues to recover from the severe head injury. “He just asked all the right questions – in a really scary moment, too. There was blood everywhere.”

Hedman and Jordan Nelson, who turns 13 on Sunday, both received Life-Saving Medals of Honor on Tuesday from the Colorado Association of School Resource Officers during the organization’s annual conference.

Hedman, who was SHS student body president, said Yankowski’s injury last October caused a panic.

“It was tragic. Like everyone freaked out when they heard her yell,” he said.

He didn’t have a cell phone, so he borrowed one and kept calm while explaining the situation to dispatch.

“The thing just went into her face,” he said. “Like it weighs over a ton.”

He said the lift had been having problems with a weight imbalance, and when it fell it “popped back” in Yankowski’s face “pretty hard.”

Yankowski said some part of the lift, possibly the bucket at the top, fell and hit her head, crushing her left orbital bone (the skull’s eye socket) and busting her scalp to the bone.

“I was on a backboard and neck brace and everything when they took me to the hospital,” she said. “I asked, ‘Am I dying?’ And they said, ‘We’re doing the best we can.'”

She had a facial reconstruction a few weeks ago that involved removing a plate from her face, lassoing the inside of the eye and tacking it through a hole drilled in her nose.

The SHS teacher has been with the district for nine years, instructing on mostly algebra II and geometry. Her teaching career spans 24 years.

“I am hoping to go back to full-time,” Yankowski said. “It just depends how I recover from the surgeries – I may have two more.”

She said she’d always thought Hedman was a “great kid” but he “jumped up a notch when he was able to keep his cool and … get information to dispatch so they could help me once they walked in.”

Hedman is starting at the University of Colorado at Boulder this fall, where he plans to study ecology and evolutionary biology.

Boy Scout training put to use

Jordan Nelson was in his sixth-grade reading class at Summit Middle School -not long after the return from holiday break last winter – when a classmate stood up with his hands on his throat.

“Everybody was super quiet,” Jordan said. “The kid stands up, his face was all red and everything.”

Jordan, having learned the Heimlich maneuver in a recent Boy Scouts of America class, got behind his friend and clasped his fists around him.

“I think it took three times before it came out,” he said of the abdominal thrusts that dislodged the sucker.

The teacher was trained in the maneuver but had briefly stepped out of the room.

The student was sent to the nurse and “ended up being OK,” Jordan said.

“It was kind of an adrenaline rush,” he said.

Rebecca Johnson, Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy and school resource officer, said the students’ actions “are living proof of what great kids we have here.”

“I think a lot of times people don’t realize … that help could be sitting right next to them,” she said, adding that she hopes other kids will be inspired by the stories.

Johnson said she’s interested in perhaps bringing a program to the schools that would include training in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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