It's a moment many of us dread: happening unexpectedly upon a friend who is in the midst of a medical emergency. Jacquise Richardson, a freshman at Jemison High School in Huntsville, AL, found himself in just that situation. He calmly and decisively helped a friend who was having a seizure, and Richardson's teachers are now praising him for his timely actions.
WAFF spoke with Richardson and his teachers in the aftermath of the emergency. Friends had summoned him to a school bathroom where one of his 9th grade classmates was having a seizure. Other students were unsure of how to respond to the situation, but Richardson was able to provide the appropriate medical care to stabilize the student and keep him safe until further help arrived.
Upon arriving at the scene, "Jacquise knew exactly what to do next, thanks to his mother, who is a nurse. They're very close and talk about everything, including how to respond in different medical emergencies," said WAFF.
His ability to draw from informal training and react accordingly is impressive and demonstrates a maturity well beyond his years. Dr. Lynette Alexander, principal at Jemison, reflected on the event, "It's just refreshing to know that we have wonderful kids here at Jemison High School and they're willing to go the extra mile for their friends, their loved ones. I'm not surprised that he was willing to try to help."
Galatia Ford, 9th-grade biology teacher, hopes that by celebrating Richardson's action, the school can inspire students to reach similar heights of care and compassion, "It’s extremely important to make sure our students get light shined on them for taking heroic actions like my student Jacquise did . . . I believe that by highlighting the positive actions of our students, it could influence them to continue to pursue and achieve even more noble acts."
Richardson might have even found a lifelong calling through his response to the emergency. WAFF reports that he has previously leaned toward a future career as an entrepreneur, perhaps opening and operating his own business. Yet, the recent event proved to him that he might have the foundational skills and personality traits best suited to a career in medicine.
Celebrating caring and courageous action in students is very important, because schools often focus so intently on academic performance. UCLA sociologist Jeffrey Guhin researched urban public schools for the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture's School Cultures and Student Formation Project. His research appears in The Content of Their Character, where he reports: 'This paradox is central to what I saw: Teachers really do want students to become caring people; its just not the first thing they work toward or think about."
Thankfully, Jemison High School has students like Richardson who act quickly to care for their friends in need, and teachers like Ford who make sure that others admire and imitate him.
The Jubilee Centre on Character & Virtues offers a lesson on Helping Those in Distress that can help students build the habit and capacity of knowing how to respond in emergency situations.