With 30 compressions and two rescue breaths, 16-year-old Torri’ell Norwood saved her best friend’s life, just a day after completing a basic life support class at her high school.
“I never would have thought that I would be the one, out of all the students in my class to have to perform it on someone,” she said.
Norwood was driving three friends home in St. Petersburg, Florida, on February 20 when another driver slammed into her from her left and sent her car careening.
“We crashed in someone’s yard and I hit the tree,” Norwood said.
The impact jammed shut the driver’s side door, so Norwood climbed out the front window. Two of her friends managed to get out of the car unharmed, but the collision caused her 16-year-old friend A’zarria Simmons to hit her head on the backseat window.
“When I turned around, I didn’t see A’zarria running with us,” Norwood told CNN. “So, I had to run back to the car as fast as I can. She was just sitting there unresponsive.”
And that’s when the training Norwood had just learned kicked in.
“A lot of people started to gather around to see what was happening. I started yelling, ‘Back up, back up, she needs space.’”
She pulled Simmons out of the back seat, avoiding broken glass from the window.
“That’s when I checked her pulse on her neck. I put my head against her chest, and I didn’t really hear nothing. So that’s when I just started doing CPR on her.”
After the 30 compressions and two rescue breaths, Simmons regained consciousness. Paramedics quickly arrived and rushed her to the hospital, where she received stitches for a gash in her forehead.
“I don’t remember the hit or anything about accident. But when I woke up, I was in the hospital. I was in shock. I was trying to figure out how I got there,” Simmons said.
What every teacher dreams of
Norwood, a junior at St. Petersburg’s Lakewood High School, participates in the school’s Athletic Lifestyle Management Academy. The program prepares students for various careers in health science.
“We do vital signs and they learn how to take blood pressure and check pulse. We have just about 100 students in our academy,” Erika Miller, Norwood’s instructor, told CNN.
And another one of the skills learned is CPR.
“There are two components, a hands-on skills component where they have to demonstrate that they’re proficient in the skills of adult, child and infant CPR, how to help somebody who’s choking, as well as how to use an AED (defibrillator). And then there’s a written test component, showing that they retain that knowledge.”
When Miller learned that Norwood resuscitated a friend, she was at a loss of words and so proud.
“I was just absolutely astounded,” Miller said. “I have former students come back once they’re in nursing school or have gone on to pursue careers as EMTs and say ‘Oh my gosh, you know, this is what it was like’ but not while they were still a student of mine or definitely not within 24 hours. This is what every teacher dreams of, you know, that somebody listens, pays attention, learns something.”
An unbreakable bond
Norwood and Simmons share a long friendship.
“We’ve been friends since seventh grade,” Simmons shared. “And since then, it just been us.”
Thanks to Norwood’s quick thinking, Simmons is recovering well. She also isn’t surprised by her friend’s actions.
“She will always help any way she can, to help anybody,” Simmons said. “Even if it wasn’t me, if was someone else and she knew she could do something to help, she would do it. So I wasn’t really shocked about that.
Both friends plan to pursue careers in the medical field.
“I do want to be a nurse,” Norwood said with excitement. “I know that if somebody was in need of help, I’d go to the rescue.”