Three students were presented with civic service awards by Victoria Police Chief Del Manak, recognizing the actions they took that helped save the life of someone who was overdosing in a school bathroom.
It was a normal day at Victoria High in December of 2019.
Al Baraa Al Homsi, a Grade 11 student, had gone into the bathroom to check his hair before class when he heard something off. He, along with Majeed Sultan, Grade 10, and Ahmad Al Shehab, Grade 12, heard an unusual noise coming from a closed stall.
“[It sounded like] snoring and [I] looked at him from the top [of the stall], he didn’t look alright,” said Sultan. The person in the stall was overdosing.
Al Homsi ran and notified a teacher, while the other two students stayed back to help pull the individual from the stall. Staff members gave the young man CPR to keep him breathing long enough for Naloxone to be administered.
“We were fine, we didn’t feel that scared or anything but we were hopeful that we did what we could to save someone’s life,” said Al Shehab.
The students recognized in a Victoria Polie Department ceremony Nov. 6, each immigrated from Syria.
“I was raised and taught to help anyone I can and to try to help as much as possible,” said Al Shehab. “When we first came [to Canada] we got lots of help from all people, wonderful people, and we will try to help as much as we can.”
The student’s names will now be put up on a wall in the Victoria Police Headquarters to honour their actions.
“In policing we often say we can’t do it all, we would love nothing more than to be everywhere at every moment – ready to help every citizen that’s in need, but we all know that’s actually not possible,” said Manak. “But we also know that there are citizens out there who can help us make a difference.”
According to Chris Koutougos, vice-principal of Vic High, there are at least three Naloxone kits within the school but that some staff members also carry kits.
“We knew at the time when we were doing the training that it was going to be a skill we may have to use given the circumstances that are happening in the community with the opioid crisis,” he said on Friday. “We were aware at some point, we just didn’t think it would happen in the school with one of our youth.”
The young man who overdosed had been enrolled at the school prior to the incident but was not a student at the time.
The three students were given plaques during Friday’s ceremony.
“We have a big TV at home, we’re just going to get rid of that and put [the plaque] right there,” joked Al Shehab.