A young EMT, Samantha Agins, died after trying to save a woman at a New Jersey Jaycee Summer camp, a camp experience for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The 22-year-old EMT, from Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, lived by the caregiver’s motto: “If you can help someone, you have to try,” her family said, and that’s exactly what she did.
NBC News on Aug. 15 reported that Agins “spent more than 30 minutes performing CPR on the stricken camper — an autistic woman in her 40s — but was unable to save her life, her father said. Agins then fell ill herself, but paramedics at the scene in the Pocono Mountains and her family initially thought she was simply in shock from the ordeal.”
Agins was found to have suffered a series of debilitating strokes after frantically trying to save the life of a woman who had gone into cardiac arrest. Agins was taken off life support August 11, four days after the incident at the camp.
Paula Agins, Samantha’s mother, said her daughter was a senior at East Stroudsburg University, and held a 4.0 GPA. She was on her way to becoming a physician’s assistant. “Sam started giving her CPR,” Paula said. “She hooked up the (automated external defibrillator), and it kept telling her to push harder. She never wanted to quit.”
Reports the Pocono Record: “At the Pocono Medical Center, the doctor told [Paula Agins] that an artery was dissected during the CPR and caused Samantha to suffer a stroke in her brain stem, which killed all the nerves to that part of her brain. She was transported to Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, and spent a few days on life support there, before she died Tuesday evening, her mother said.”
Paula said at first, she thought her daughter was suffering from shock after the ordeal of trying – unsuccessfully – to save the life of the 40-year-old. She diligently delivered CPR for over thirty minutes before the ambulance showed up. Agins said later that evening, her daughter started to vomit. She asked the camp administrators if she could take Samantha home, but was told no, in case the hospital staff or coroner needed to speak to her about the deceased woman.
“That’s when she had another mini stroke,” Paula said. “She wasn’t as responsive as the first time, but I could take her home.” At 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Samantha was unresponsive and was taken to the Pocono Medical Center. The following day, Paula said she knew her daughter “wasn’t there.”
“I told my husband when I saw her, she was different. She wasn’t there anymore,” she said, adding that she was told Samantha had “locked-in syndrome” – a medical condition, usually resulting from a stroke, in which a patient is paralyzed but still remains conscious of what is happening around them.
By Monday, Samantha’s brain function had failed as well. “On Monday afternoon, she was no longer in that syndrome. She was in a coma and she wasn’t coming back,” a tearful Paula recounted.
“Knowing she died trying to save a life, which is what she wanted to do, brings a little comfort for us,” said Samantha’s dad Bruce Agins. “It doesn’t bring her back. It doesn’t fill the void. It does bring some comfort.”
“It’s been very overwhelming,” Paula Agins added. “It speaks to the testimonial of just what kind of kid she was.”
Adds the Pocono Record: “As a child, Samantha had severe hearing issues and was in and out of children’s hospitals, which inspired her to want to help others. Paula and her husband decided to donate her tissue, and her hair will be donated to Locks of Love. It’s what Samantha would have wanted.”