Northwest Florida Daily News | by Tom McLaughlin | March 24, 2021
CRESTVIEW — Savion Harris, a 16-year-old high school student hoping to one day earn a college degree that leads to a career as a trauma nurse, already has shown he has what it takes to be a life saver.
Harris, a junior enrolled in a CPR certification class at Crestview High School, recently applied his training in a real-life situation and played a huge role in saving a 6-month-old child who wasn’t breathing.
Harris said he and co-workers were just finishing up for the evening at the Thai restaurant where they work when the mother of the family-owned business came running down a flight of stairs with her young son, Max, in her arms. Harris said the mother was crying and screaming and Max wasn’t breathing.
Crestview High School Junior Savion Harris talks with Dr. Tammy McKenzie, one of his instructors at the school, about the CPR techniques he used recently to save a six-month old child who was not breathing. Harris learned CPR this year in one of his classes in the school’s Career Technical Education curriculum. DEVON RAVINE/DAILY NEWS
The mother passed the child to the father, who urged the employees to call 911. As a co-worker was dialing, Harris “kind of decided to take a little more control” of the critical situation.
“While I was talking to the responder on the other end of the phone, I got the baby from the dad and put him on the table. The baby was turning blue and I decided to do CPR,” he said. “I did two good compressions and the baby started crying, so I knew he was getting oxygen to his lungs. The color started returning to his face and at that point the ambulance arrived.”
Harris is one of many Crestview High students taking medical field training as part of the school’s Career Technical Education curriculum, according to Principal Dexter Day. The program, which when Day arrived at the school in 2007 employed one faculty member to teach five classes, “has grown exponentially over the years” and now has three instructors each teaching at least five classes.
Dr. Tammy McKenzie, head of the medical program department, is Harris’ instructor in the CPR certification class.
Crestview’s medical field educational opportunities are provided in conjunction with Florida State University’s SSTRIDE (Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity & Excellence) program, Day said. And although the training can lead to jobs straight out of high school, FSU enters the partnership hoping some enrollees will show interest in entering its medical program.
That’s what Harris wants to do.
Day credited Okaloosa County School Superintendent Marcus Chambers for his commitment to the SSTRIDE program and similar career development training opportunities.
“His passion is to make our CTE programs the best in the nation, not just the state,” Day said.
Harris said in the immediate aftermath of his heroic effort he was mostly grateful to see the ambulance crew arrive to take over. He said his experience left him hopeful that he won’t be so nervous the next time he’s placed in a potential life-or-death situation, but he couldn’t rule anything out.
“I only had to do two compressions. The next time I may have to do compressions for 30 minutes or on the side of the road,” he said.
He said he definitely took something away from the real-life learning opportunity.
Crestview High School junior Savion Harris demonstrates the chest compressions he used recently to help save a 6-month-old child who was not breathing. Harris learned CPR this year in one of his classes in the school’s Career and Technical Education Allied Health Program. DEVON RAVINE/DAILY NEWS
“I think I will be faster to step up next time,” he said. “I don’t know if the nerves will go away, but I’ll be faster for sure.”
Day said Harris’ willingness to set aside any nervousness and let his instruction take over has made the entire school proud.
“It makes me feel like a proud daddy,” he said. “I just stick my chest out and say, ‘That’s one of our kids.’ “
Photo: Crestview High School junior Savion Harris talks about using the CPR skills he recently learned at the school to help save a 6-month-old child who was not breathing. Harris learned CPR this year in one of his classes in the schoolÕs Career and Technical Education Allied Health program.DEVON RAVINE