Tates Creek senior credited with CPR save outside restaurant
From left: Academy coach Amanda Wickersham; teacher Lauren Royalty; Principal Marty Mills; senior Barack Aziz;
and Ann Shaw, principal of the Medical & Emergency Services Academy at Tates Creek High School.
When a medical emergency unfolded in the parking lot at Taco Bell where he works part-time, Tates Creek High School senior Barack Aziz didn’t hesitate to jump in and help. A customer was lying in the grass unresponsive when Barack handed his glasses to a coworker and knelt to begin CPR. “I did it for about 2½ minutes but it felt like a long time,” he said, recalling how his arms cramped from the exertion. “My whole mind was like, ‘I want to save this man’s life.”
Barack’s efforts made the difference, and paramedics then revived the customer. Lexington firefighters and first responders subsequently commended the student’s levelheaded action during a brief ceremony in the school library, where he received Tates Creek’s 2019 Citizenship Award. They have also nominated Barack to be recognized at their annual banquet in early 2020.
“It was a phenomenal display of citizenship. It’s a good example of his character and the way he’s been raised,” said Tates Creek Principal Marty Mills. “Saving a life is a big deal,” he told the humble teenager. “Not many people your age could do what you did and handle it.”
Barack was prepared thanks to instruction offered by the fire department’s community services office. Amanda Wickersham, the academy coach at Tates Creek, helped modify the content for students in the Medical & Emergency Services Academy. “Our interactive approach allowed students to stay engaged and participate in all aspects of the class,” said Maj. Jordan Saas. “By the end of the 50-minute session, each student received hands-on training on how to apply a tourniquet, perform CPR compressions, use an automated external defibrillator, pack a bleeding wound, and provide care to a choking victim. The goal was for students to develop the confidence and training needed to help save a life.”
Less than 10 days later, Barack put the new knowledge to practical use. “When we arrived, Barack was performing the skills he learned through our class,” said firefighter Kyle Branham. “Your actions set an example for those around you, and we want to encourage others to follow your lead,” he told the senior.
Barack, who aspires to be a dentist or a plastic surgeon, remembers paying close attention during the CPR session. “I knew I wanted to learn it and keep it in my mind. I focused to make sure I learned everything, and two weeks later I needed it,” he said.
Barack takes a basic medical sciences class at Tates Creek, which this school year added its Medical & Emergency Services Academy. It, along with medical academies at Bryan Station and Frederick Douglass high schools, is a satellite of the long-established program at Southside Technical Center. Nurse aide teacher Anna Jones, who mentors the new staff at Tates Creek, and Southside Principal Daryn Morris were in the audience along with Barack’s family for the fire department salute.
Barack’s teacher, Lauren Royalty, also offered high praise. “He’s an excellent student and so full of joy and enthusiasm. He’s always so eager to learn,” she said. A registered nurse with 15 years of experience in critical care, Royalty was impressed by Barack’s fast-thinking action. With mature nursing students sometimes wary of touching critical patients, she said, Barack’s response that day outside Taco Bell was all the more amazing and courageous.
Despite all the attention, Barack remained steady and matter of fact. And he wouldn’t hesitate if faced again with a similar emergency. “If you see somebody passed out,” he said, “just go for it.”