NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two staff members at a North Providence school put their CPR skills to the test last week as they saved a coworker’s life.

A custodian at Whelan Elementary School collapsed in the gymnasium last Thursday.

“When I assessed him, he didn’t have a pulse and he wasn’t breathing,” school nurse Lucy Polisena said.

Polisena has not only been Whelan’s nurse for the past four years but she’s also been teaching CPR at CCRI for about three decades.

“I just did what I was taught to do and what I teach other people to do,” she added.

According to Polisena, the custodian was found unresponsive on the floor by a parent-teacher. Others called for help as she started doing chest compressions.

“I asked Lucy, ‘what do you need me to do?’ and right about that time, the AED machine came,” health and physical education teacher Gerry Rubino recalled. “I hooked it up to him and we followed the instructions.”

“He took over chest compressions while I ventilated,” Polisena said.

Rubino has been teaching at Whelan for 28 years. Neither he nor Polisena had ever used their CPR skills at the school until that day.

“All my years of teaching just took over,” Polisena noted.

Rubino is also a coach at the school. By state regulation, any nurses and coaches at Rhode Island schools must have CPR certification and at the very least, one person other than the school nurse must be certified.

The custodian is doing fine and recovering at the hospital, according to Whelan Principal Linda Murphy.

Murphy said they’re now considering adding a CPR course at the school, as well as a second automated external defibrillator (AED) at the opposite end of the building.