Fast Thinking Teen Saves Church Leader from Anaphylaxis with Skills Learned in Health Class


A church leader has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including the decisive action by Grace Deitz, a senior at Topsail High School in Hampstead, NC.

Deitz was on a trip with her church when the group decided to stop for a group photo. During the stop, several of the church members were stung by fire ants whose venom causes a burning sensation and can trigger a reaction in individuals who are allergic.

A short time later after the group was back on the road, the driver — an adult church leader — began experiencing the telltale symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis is a serious reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance that can be deadly if not treated promptly.

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The group switched drivers and headed for the nearest hospital, but Dietz saw the leader’s condition was deteriorating quickly and knew action had to be taken immediately.

Luckily, one of the group members carried an epinephrine auto-injector. Deitz gave the device to the ailing man and coached him through the steps of administering it to himself, after which his symptoms eased. Epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis.

Said Dietz:

I’ve taken the classes, I’ve received the training, and when I found out we had an EpiPen, I felt ready to go and use it, and of course, having God there to help give you peace in those situations.

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Upon returning to school that Monday, Deitz told her story to her Health Sciences teacher, Barbara Gleaves. According to Gleaves, this wasn’t the first time a student saved a life in her nine years teaching at the school. She said knowing her students use their skills to help others is what motivates her in her own career.

Said Gleaves:

That’s why we teach health science. That’s why I became a teacher, so that I can impart that knowledge on other kids and that they can save somebody’s life, and it just so happens that Grace was the right person, at the right time, in the right place.

Deitz, who will graduate this school year, was already interested in a career in the health field and says the experience has motivated her even more. She encourages other students who may not know if they are interested in health sciences to consider taking a class so that they too can learn the skills to help in an emergency.

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Said Dietz:

We have an amazing health science program here and some amazing teachers that train you well and give you that experience and that knowledge of what the healthcare field is like.

You can see the WECT-TV news report detailing the story here:

Our congratulations to Grace Deitz for her quick thinking and decisive action. We wish her well in her studies and are happy she is considering a career in healthcare.

We also congratulate Barbara Gleaves on her work to educate students and provide them with lifesaving skills.

The world needs more Graces and Barbaras.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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