Mississippi high school student uses med-tech training to save uncle

Published 5:36 am Sunday, May 2, 2021

Santeuana Miller has spent the last two years learning a lot about the medical field in the health science/medical tech program at Columbus High School’s McKellar Vocational School.

On April 7, she learned something about herself that may be just as important for the aspiring travel nurse.

Miller will be wrapping up the two-year health science/med tech program this semester, studying her sophomore year under Linda Kyle and this year under Melanie Ford, a McKellar teacher for 19 years and a registered nurse since 1996.

“Let me tell you, she’s learned a lot,” Ford said.

Students in the program study units on a wide range of topics — from the cardiopulmonary system, to medical procedures to ascertain vital signs, basic first aid, professional-level CPR, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, growth and development, laboratory procedure and an introduction to pharmacology.

Miller is one of those students who seems to soak up everything that comes her way, Ford said.

“She always pays attention and usually she has already completed the daily assignments before she comes to class,” Ford said. “I can see her pursuing a career in medicine and whatever she chooses to be, I would not hesitate to be her patient.”

But it was a lesson she couldn’t learn in a classroom that may have cemented Miller’s determination to become a medical professional.

Miller, a junior, attends CHS as a hybrid student, attending in-person classes on Thursdays and Fridays. The other days she participates in virtual classes.

April 7 was a Wednesday, so Miller was at home. She was sitting on a sofa in the family’s home in East Columbus when she heard a banging noise outside.

“I went outside to see what was going on and my (great) uncle was having a seizure,” Miller said. “I knew right away what was happening. At first, I panicked, but then I got control of myself and knew what I had to do.”

Willie Evans, 70, was lying on his back. The convulsions of the seizure made it difficult for him to breath. Miller said she remembered what she had learned in the classroom about how to care for someone having a seizure.

“The first thing I did was to get him on his side,” she said. “That prevents choking. Then I held his head in the correct position. People who are having seizures can hit their heads and cause head injuries during seizures. What you have to do is make sure their body is in a safe position and their head is protected.”

Miller told her niece to call 911 as she kept Evans in a stable position.

“He had three seizures before the ambulance got here,” Miller said. “The last one ended about the time the ambulance arrived.”

Evans was given an IV and was soon stabilized after arriving at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle.

He does not remember anything about the incident.

“I didn’t really come around until I got to the hospital,’’ Evans said. “The first thing I thought after it was over was that (Santeuana) did a good job. I don’t know what would have happened if she hadn’t been there. I think she saved my life.”

The next day, Miller told Ford about the incident.

“She did exactly what her training told her to do,” said Ford, who works part-time as an emergency room nurse at Baptist. “I was just so proud of her. I think she learned something through that experience that is very important, that she can put into practice what she has learned in a very stressful situation. Seeing a family member in distress and being able to control your emotions and give them the help they need makes all the difference, and when you’ve had that experience, you know you are able to help people.”

Miller said she had been interested in a medical career before the events of April 7. Since that day, she’s certain of her path.

I have to give all the credit to Mrs. Kyle and Mrs. Ford because they are the ones who made me want to be in the medical field,” Miller said. “What I learned from what happened that day is that I can do it and I know I can do it.”