By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – When Northborough resident Gregory Stern was mowing his lawn on Aug. 19, he hit an underground yellow jacket nest. Being stung is never pleasant, but when you have an allergy, it can be life threatening if left untreated. Stern credits neighbors Algonquin Regional High School ninth graders and friends Johnny Meschisen and Michael Cashel for saving his life.
Stern and his son Chris honored the boys on Nov. 14 with certificates of heroism from the town of Northborough Board of Selectmen and with authentic jerseys from their favorite teams – Cashel is a Duke fan; Meschisen a Bruins fan.
“If they were not there when my dad was stung he would not be alive today,” said Chris. “I am forever grateful to each of them for their life saving act.”
Stern said one sting is usually no problem, but he was stung six or seven times at once and knew he was starting to have an anaphylactic reaction.
“It’s terrifying if you are allergic,” he said.
He knew he had an epinephrine pen (adrenaline) in his car, but he felt his face getting warm and his chest tightening, and he knew he needed help quickly.
Meschisen and Cashel were outside when Stern came over and said he was stung and wasn’t feeling well.
“I went and got my mom, and she held Greg’s hand and walked him back to his garage,” said Meschisen. “All of a sudden my mom starting yelling for me. I went over and Greg was laying on his garage floor. My mom told me an EpiPen was in his car. I found it, and my mom didn’t know how to use it. We started yelling for Michael. I stuck the pen in Greg’s thigh, and then Michael came over and did the same thing, because he knew for sure how to use it. My mom called 911, and then the ambulance came.”
Stern remembers Johnny coming over, but must have passed out because the next thing he remembers is being picked up from the ground.
“They literally saved my life,” said Stern. “The EpiPen is pure adrenaline; it takes over your system. The powerfulness of the adrenaline keeps the throat from shutting down. If you don’t have the EpiPen, your throat will constrict and you can’t breathe.”
Stern ended up in the hospital for five nights.
“I previously knew how to use an EpiPen due to an allergy of my own,” said Cashel. “I then proceeded to inject the medicine in him while waiting for the ambulance. I do not wish to receive full credit, for I could not have done this without my best friend, Johnny. He stayed with Greg through the attack and helped him through it. I am just happy that I could do something to contribute to saving someone’s life.”
The boys did not realize that Stern had such severe allergies.
“I do not consider myself a hero,” Cashel said. “I was just doing the right thing.”
“I felt very relieved, but we didn’t know if he was going to be ok until later that night,” said Meschisen. “I think it’s important that I learn how to use an EpiPen better, and I think that everyone should learn how to use one.”