Turning Skills into Life-Saving Actions

Zacharie Harvey (left) and Evan Thomas (right) stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their teacher, Will Apostolos.

When a teacher at the Fairfield-Suisun Public Safety Academy started to experience tightness in his chest last fall, he was not surprised when two students rushed to his side, taking blood pressure readings, recording vital signs and keeping him calm.

Zacharie Harvey and Evan Thomas, both “graduates” of Lacy DeQuattro’s CPR training, have had their fair share of experience in responding to emergencies. Although they are only 17, they are often called to the school’s office to attend to another student, a teacher or visitor until paramedics arrive.

That’s what happened when physical education instructor Will Apostolos felt queasy in October. The fingers on his right hand were tingling and his chest felt tight. “I tried to shake it off, but it was getting sharper and sharper,” recalled Will. “I went to the nurse’s station to lie down and wait for help. The next thing I know, Zack and Evan came in and took over. They were doing workups on me when the ambulance arrived.”

Fortunately, it wasn’t a heart attack causing his pain, as he later discovered. “But it was a real honor to know that students who I’ve taught, that we have at this school, are really putting to use the real world skills we’re teaching them here,” he said. “And the thing is, they are two of many here at the Public Safety Academy who are learning to do what needs to be done in case of an emergency.”

Principal Laurie Halcomb agreed. “I’ve asked Zack and Evan to come when we’ve had an emergency before, and they grab their medical bags and hurry in. When it’s over, I have them fill out a report every time. It’s great experience.”

Zack hopes to become a public safety officer. He serves in the Fire Explorer Program chartered through the Boy Scouts and works part time at the Kroc Center in Suisun City. He plans to attend Grand Canyon University and major in emergency management. Evan comes from a family of firefighters and plans to keep the momentum going. After graduation, he will take fire education classes at Solano Community College, before attending the Solano Fire Academy, EMT school and paramedic school.

Both boys—along with about 90 other students—participated in the half-day presentation NorthBay Healthcare employees Lacy DeQuattro and Laura McGuire coordinated in February, for heart health month.

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