“How do you say thank you to the people that saved your life?”
Savannah Vaden is a special education aide at Timber Creek, and was in the graduating class of 2012. During her sophomore year, Vaden walked into first period per usual, however, after standing up to say the Pledge of Allegiance, she collapsed suddenly in chemistry teacher Shelley Hawkins’ classroom. Vaden had gone into cardiac arrest.
Hawkins was taken aback by the situation she saw before her, but instinctually knew that she had to act fast.
“I was definitely in a state of shock. I called the nurse immediately and had Coach King come in to help out,” Hawkins said.
Vaden told Talon that Michael King and Nurse Toy, the school nurse at the time, played an integral part in rescuing her.
“Of course they did the code red drill. Coach King started CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and Toy is the one that got the AED (Automated External Defibrillator). They had to shock me twice,” Vaden explained. “The first time it didn’t work, and the second time is when they got a heart rhythm.”
King, a soccer coach and outdoor education teacher, said that he felt he needed to do anything in his power to help.
“All I could think of was this was someone’s daughter and I needed to do whatever I could to help her. My own kids were running through my mind as well,” King shared.
Both King and Hawkins had never experienced something like this before. Texas high school coaches are required to be CPR certified, but it’s not too often that a student actually goes into cardiac arrest.
The incident was something of a freak accident for Vaden as well. She hadn’t had a pre-existing condition or anything that could explain the life-threatening situation.
“It was super random. It never happened to me before. There’s no family history or anything like that,” Vaden said. “Ever since that day, it hadn’t happened again.”
Although not a typical occurrence, what took place that day taught Hawkins a life lesson.
“This experience taught me that you never know what can happen on any given day and that you need to be prepared for anything,” Hawkins said.
As far as being prepared, King is in full agreement with the sentiment.
“Honestly, I think all teachers should be CPR certified. This can happen anywhere at anytime,” King stated. “The more individuals we have certified, the [more] lives we can save.”
Saving a life is exactly what the school faculty did that day. Vaden said that she is so grateful that King, Hawkins, and Toy were all there to aid her.
“Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it. How do you say thank you to the people that saved your life? There’s nothing I could say that’s adequate enough,” Vaden expressed. “Without them I wouldn’t be here today.”
Vaden also shared that she decided to come back to Timber Creek because of the incident from all those years ago.
“I never really wanted to be a teacher, but previously I had worked with special education students in a therapy setting. That’s kind of just where my life took me, but I definitely made the choice to come to this school because of that reason,” Vaden explained.
Vaden said that she received a lot of support upon her return to school following the incident. She also kept in touch with both King and Hawkins.
All in all, Vaden’s story is a huge learning lesson for students and faculty alike. Being trained in CPR and code red drills, as well as making sure that there is an AED machine on campus could be the difference between life and death. Not only that, but the heroism demonstrated that day proves that Timber Creek is most definitely a school built on bravery and a genuine concern for all those who come here.