Kansas teen’s training helps save mom’s life

Kansas News

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita teen is being hailed a hero for his quick action following his mom’s sudden health scare.

“I never thought in a million years I would ever do it,” said Darrius Smith.

Darrius, 17, refers to using the life-saving skills he learned in the Greater Wichita YMCA’s Job Prep Program.

“I remember the day after we learned it. I hoped I would never have to use it because I would probably mess up, and then, she decided to test my theory,” Darrius explained.

How Darrius saved his mom

Darrius’ theory was tested in early 2021. His mom, Tracy Smith, wasn’t feeling well.

“I have a condition called diverticulitis, and so I thought I just had a stomach ache, a flare-up, so I said, ‘let me just lay down, and I will feel better in a little bit,'” said Tracy.

Too weak to do it on her own, Tracy, 51, asked her 15-year-old daughter Shawnee to help her get to the bathroom.

“I fell right before I got to my door, so then she called him and told him (Darrius) to come and help. They were trying to help me down the hallway, and then, that’s when I fell a second time. At that time, I wasn’t able to get up,” Tracy explained.

That’s when Darrius called on his recent training. He immediately started checking his mother’s vitals. He ordered his dad to call 911 and told his sister to write down their mother’s medications.

“It was just basic second knowledge. I was like ok, try to do stuff that we learned and make sure that it wasn’t a stroke or other internal things going on,” Darrius explained. “It was like second nature.”

While the family waited for EMS to arrive, Darrius kept his mother awake despite her dropping blood pressure.

“I knew if she passed out, that means something else is going to happen,” he said.

“He was talking, kept talking to me and everything through the stuff he learned at the job prep at the first aid part, and so he was asking me all the questions for like the stroke and just asking me random questions just to keep me talking,” Tracy said.

Eventually, paramedics got Tracy to the hospital. There, doctors discovered she had a GI bleed. Tracy said if Darrius had not stepped in and helped her, she likely would have died.

“I didn’t take my family for granted before, but it just made me appreciate them a lot more,” Tracy said. “We are very proud of him, and when I tell him, he’s like, ‘mom, it was just another day. I’m like no, it wasn’t.'”

The Smith family said this situation is extra special because many people told Darrius he would not amount to much after he was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia.

“There were counselors at schools that would say, ‘you know, he can try his hardest, but he is not going to learn anything,'” Tracy explained.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it wherever I was going to go, so I guess nothing is really stopping me, so I guess just keep pushing,” Darrius said.

Thanking the Greater Wichita YMCA for the life-saving knowledge

Darrius said he owes the YMCA’s Job Prep program and his instructors for teaching him what to do in a situation such as this.

“I am very proud. I am happy that I took that test and actually paid attention for once,” he laughed.

“You are teaching people these skills, and you hope they are listening,” said Senior Program Director of Urban Outreach Tyrone Baker. “Never once did I think one of my students would actually go off and use the skills to save his mom’s life. Chills just came down me when I heard about it.”

Moving forward

The Smith family told KSN they feel an even stronger bond following Tracy’s medical scare.

They said the situation taught them to hold their loved ones even closer and to not take any day for granted.

“Appreciate life. Appreciate what you have. It’s not what you don’t have; it’s when it gets lost you appreciate it more,” Darrius said. “I am just happy she is here. I appreciate her so much and almost losing her was really a big shock.”

Darrius said he plans to use the other skills he learned in job prep, like how to conduct himself during an interview and exude confidence, to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician.

“I want to write for shows. I want to just bring joy into this world,” he said.

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