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Student uses new health lessons to help teacher in emergency

Nick Youngson
Alpha Stock Images

Sweet and confident are two words that best describe Crestwood High School junior Saravia Wright.

The 17-year-old is a first-year student in the health science career cluster program at Sumter Career and Technology Center and talked this week about how she recently put into practice her new-found skills to potentially help save a Sumter School District teacher's life.

Wright and Lakewood High School teacher Gayle Jennings were all smiles recently in reflecting on the events of Oct. 17, when the young nursing student jumped into duty on the spot when Jennings experienced a very high blood pressure episode at the career center.

While accompanying a group of Lakewood students on a field study tour of career and technical programs offered at the center, Jennings began to feel weak with a severe headache and could not look into the light. She told a staff member nearby of her symptoms.

Wright was also nearby, and when she heard the conversation, she immediately recalled that her cousin suffers from the same symptoms because of high blood pressure.

In an instant, the student was quickly bringing a blood pressure machine from her classroom to the scene to get an accurate reading.

The teenager calmed Jennings down through conversation and performed an accurate reading. Jennings' blood pressure was at an emergency, crisis level, and the student then immediately got her health science instructor at the center, Kim Browning, to come to the scene.

Browning assessed the situation and agreed with her student that Jennings needed immediate medical attention, and school officials called an ambulance.

Jennings would wind up spending most of the day at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital until her blood pressure was lower.

Wright said this week the event was actually her first time using a blood pressure machine since her coursework just began in August, but she also remembered reading from her textbook about symptoms.

"To be honest, I just went off what I kind of knew to check her blood pressure," Wright said. "I was really nervous because I never used the machine before."

Jennings said she is "very grateful" to the youngster and brushed off any concerns about it being Wright's first time using the equipment.

"But it didn't show," Jennings said. "She just jumped in and did what she had to do and didn't hesitate at all. She really acted like an old pro at it."

This was Jennings' second visit since last month to praise and support Wright for her heroism. Two weeks ago, she came to the career center with a card and candy for the teen.

"I came here then and presented her with a basket of sweets," Jennings said, "because she was so sweet I said, 'Let me throw in some candy.' And I also had a thank you card in it. But, no matter what I had in that basket, it wasn't enough because I was so grateful she was in the right place at the right time."

Jennings came to the visit with a bouquet of flowers and balloons recognizing Wright as special and that it was her day in the limelight.

The 17-year-old said it was "a great feeling" to get all the attention, which she honestly did not expect.

But, Wright admitted, she loves attention, talking and bringing "light to the room."

"When I was in middle school, if there was anything that we had to do with talking in front of the room, they always put me up there," Wright said. "I am a social butterfly."

Her career goal is to be a registered nurse, and she thinks her personality will be an asset in the work.

"When people are sick, they don't want boring nurses who just come in, give them their medicine and go out," she said. "They need somebody who is going to talk to them and motivate them to get up. If they want to go dancing in Hollywood, that will be where we are going."