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Luck, training save man whose heart stopped; Neuschwander was at track when he had emergency

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 9/12/18

Jim Neuschwander of Derry Township considers himself lucky to be alive.

The 48-year-old information technology director often runs on the track at Middletown Area High School, on the same campus …

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Luck, training save man whose heart stopped; Neuschwander was at track when he had emergency

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Jim Neuschwander of Derry Township considers himself lucky to be alive.

The 48-year-old information technology director often runs on the track at Middletown Area High School, on the same campus as the middle school where his wife, Jodi, is employed as a school nurse.

Many times he’s there all by himself. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 4, and as a result Neuschwander is still here with us today.

Fortunately, there was another person on the track named Steve Boyland, whose training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and in outdoor emergencies had earned him a spot on the ski patrol at Ski Roundtop.

And it just so happened that on that day and at that time, Sgt. Scott Yoder with the Middletown Police Department, also highly skilled in CPR, was on patrol looking for speeders just down the road from the high school campus, in the 900 block of North Union Street.

So if something very bad was going to happen to Neuschwander, the stars were about as well-aligned to his benefit as they could be.

A few minutes before 11 a.m., Neuschwander had finished his run and was cooling down when he suddenly dropped to the ground. Beyond that, Neuschwander said he doesn’t remember a whole lot.

Boyland, who retired in 2013 as a Middletown school district teacher, was walking on the track when someone tapped him on the shoulder from behind, asking he call 911 because a man had fallen.

Boyland tried to dial 911 as he ran across the field to where Neuschwander was face down on the track, at about the starting line.

“When I got to him he was on his stomach. I rolled him over and I could tell immediately his pupils were distended (expanded) and he wasn’t breathing, and I didn’t see his chest moving, so I immediately started doing CPR” and chest compressions and breaths, Boyland told the Press & Journal.

Another man who was also exercising at the track at the time, Jacob Burger, was able to call 911.

The dispatch went to Lower Swatara police, because the high school is in the township. But Yoder heard the call on his radio and responded because he was so close.

Yoder got out of his cruiser, ran to the scene, and started assisting Boyland with CPR. As one of the two men would tire out, the other took over, until emergency medical service personnel arrived.

Boyland said he and Yoder kept this up working on Neuschwander for three minutes, until EMS arrived within 10 minutes of the first 911 call being made.

EMS took over and transported Neuschwander by ambulance to the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Neuschwander had heart surgery about a week later, and is recovering at home.

Doctors told Neuschwander he had an arrhythmia and that his heart had stopped beating. Neuschwander said that before Aug. 4, he never had any history of heart trouble, although his father had bypass surgery when he was 51.

“I exercise fairly regularly. I didn’t see anything like this coming,” Neuschwander said.

Neuschwander has no doubts that Boyland and Yoder, working together, saved his life.

“Oh absolutely,” he said. “No question about it.”

“There are times when I am running on the track and I am the only one there,” he added. “I am very lucky that day that folks were there. If nobody was around, I don’t think I would be around anymore.”

Neuschwander was able to meet and thank Boyland and Yoder in person for the first time Sept. 4, when both were presented a Lifesaving Award by Middletown Mayor James H. Curry III before the start of a borough council meeting.

“This is an amazing story of a police man and a resident working together for our common goal of protecting the community, and this man owes you his life,” Curry said.

The mayor added that the incident is a good example of why CPR instructors stress the importance of working “in tandem, to ensure you are doing it properly, because it (CPR) can be very tiresome.”

If this story doesn’t have enough interesting quirks for you already, here are a few more.

Boyland knew Neuschwander’s wife, Jodi, for many years from Boyland being a teacher for 35 years and Jodi being the nurse at the middle school.

Nor was Yoder a stranger to Boyland. Boyland had Yoder in his classroom many years ago, when Yoder was a sixth-grader.

Boyland instantly recognized Yoder as his former student that day at the track, although they had much more pressing business to attend to than reminiscing.

“I’ve seen him throughout town as a police officer for a number of years,” Boyland told the Press & Journal afterward. “He’s been at all the football games. It’s been fun watching him grow up.”

Boyland had always kept himself trained in CPR as a teacher, in case something happened to one of his students.

Besides teaching, Boyland coached football, track and baseball. He ran the district Ski Club, which led to Boyland taking his training in CPR to a new level.

“We used to go to Roundtop and I got interested in the Ski Patrol there. I joined the Ski Patrol and we did a lot of course work in CPR outdoor emergencies care,” Boyland said.

He underwent training from August through December, and was able to go out on ski patrol after successfully completing numerous tests.

“Part of all that training is what we did up there on the field,” Boyland said, referring to the Aug. 4 incident involving Neuschwander. “It feels wonderful, absolutely wonderful, to be able to help and to use my training. It feels great.”

Boyland remains involved with the school district. Five years after officially retiring, he serves as equipment manager for the varsity Blue Raiders football team.