CAMDEN — “It’s in appreciation of your service above and beyond the call of duty, in this case for aiding a student in distress on Sept. 11, 2015,” Preble Shawnee Superintendent Dr. David Ulrich told Tomi Haney and Jaron Sackenheim during a regular Preble Shawnee Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Sept. 17.
Ulrich presented the two with the first-ever “Golden Arrow” awards given by the district.
“We all know what happened 14 years ago on Sept. 11, and how much it has made a mark on this country,” he continued. “Now at least in our little part of the United States and of Preble County we have something we can think good about on Sept. 11.”
The “good” Ulrich referred to was in reference to Haney’s and Sackenheim’s actions on Friday, Sept. 11, when an elementary student suffered a medical emergency on the way home from school on the bus Haney drives for the district.
According to Haney, she noticed the student having the problem with help of an alert classmate, and stopped her bus in between Camden Elementary and West Elkton. Once she reached the student, she found the child was not alert and appeared not to be breathing.
Haney had placed the student on the ground and performed chest compressions and mouth to mouth CPR when the student showed the first signs of responding.
At this point Sackenhiem, who received a call from his girlfriend who is a teacher at the school, found the bus and assisted Haney.
As luck would have it, Sackenhiem is a health teacher at Miami University as well as a teacher at Preble Shawnee, and he had just conducted the first aid section of his class the day before.
Sackenhiem said Haney informed him she had already performed CPR but was relieved to see him.
According to Sackenhiem, he told her she had done a great job as the student was breathing again, and he was able to further clear the child’s airways and used a backpack as a pillow as the medical emergency ran its course.
Sackenhiem, an Eagle Scout, said fortunately he has been CPR certified in the past and his time as an Eagle Scout prepared him for handling situations like the one that played out on Haney’s bus.
According to Haney, the student did not become alert again until they were already in the ambulance away from her, but she received a call later informing her the student was okay.
“I was relieved,” she said of receiving the phone call. “Just glad and thankful, you know, I was just happy to know that they were okay.”
Haney, who has been driving for the district for six years, said she was thankful her training and instincts took over during the emergency which she said was by far the scariest moment she has had on the job.
According to Sackenhiem he and his girlfriend received a message on Facebook from the student’s family, alerting them of the student’s well-being and said he just “bawled his eyes out” in relief.
Both Sackenhiem and Haney were thankful for the award, but they both said the real award is knowing the student was okay.
Haney was also thankful to everyone else involved, as she said they played just as vital a role in the life-saving actions performed by members of the Preble Shawnee School district.
Ulrich was clearly a proud superintendent at the meeting, as the actions of his employees most likely saved a child’s life. “It is rare in a superintendent’s career to have the opportunity to honor people who have done extraordinary things, and last Friday we had such a case,” he said.
“We had people who stepped up and did things that I’m very proud of — they let their training take hold and did the things that were important in the health and safety of that student.”
Four other people were awarded certificates of appreciation for their help in the logistics of calling and reporting the incident to emergency officials and first responders: Heather Campbell, Rebecca Crouse, Rebecca DiFruscio, and Jenny Foxbower.
As one individual said following the meeting — it was an unfortunate story with an awesome ending.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.