“Every day, first responders respond to emergencies. They are represented by some of the professionals we see here today,” Kurt Stuenkel, president and CEO of Atrium Health Floyd and executive vice president of Atrium Health, said to a group of young men who earlier this month pried open a car door to free the victim of a traffic accident.
“I trust you guys know that Atrium Health Floyd is a big sponsor of Rome City Schools. We have school nurses and athletic trainers who work with you and your classmates. But what we wanted to do today was join with others in honoring your acts of heroism,” Stuenkel added.
Stuenkel referred to a wreck that occurred on Aug. 12 near the front entrance of Rome High School. He told the players that by acting quickly, they demonstrated some of the same characteristics as the Rome Floyd Fire Department firefighters, Rome City police officers, and Atrium Health Floyd paramedics who responded to the accident on that day.
The first responders were present Monday during a ceremony at the school to thank five Rome High football players – Antwion Carey, Alto Moore, Tyson Brown, Cesar Parker and Treyvon Adams. Classmate Messiah Daniels also helped the woman during the incident but was not present Monday.
“You did not wait for help to come. You saw that the individual needed help. And you pulled her out of a car that was smoking. We want to recognize you as Honorary First Responders,” Stuenkel said as he called each student by name and presented them with certificates. In addition, all six students received gift certificates for wings, which Stuenkel had been told was a favorite meal for the Rome Wolves heroes.
“In the great tradition of our men and women of our fire department, our men and women who wear our police uniforms, and our men and women who serve as EMTs, we are proud of you. You have shown the same character, leadership, and determination it takes to be a hero,” Stuenkel said.
The players then stood for photos with the same professionals who responded to the accident. With several years of experience under their belts, all the first responders congratulated the students for their passion for helping others and acting instinctively during a potentially dangerous situation.
“Oddly enough, one of the things we say on Friday, right before we take the field, is that our defensive linemen are first responders for the whole team,” said Rome City Schools System Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, John Reid, “because we are the first guys up front. One of our core values is toughness which I think applies to this situation. It is mental and physical toughness. We teach them to make the right choices and have strong self-discipline. We have a lot of kids that would have done this. Football is training, and I think it is good training.”
Reid went on to say the pride he has in his players, and in his program, is two-fold. He is proud of their accomplishments on the field and off the field. He referenced the graduation wall and former players who have returned to Rome to contribute to their community.
“We had a young man on our team who scraped up money to buy another kid a pair of shoes last week, so this kind of behavior is the standard for us. I was impressed with what these five players did, but I fully expected that they were capable of this act. It really could have gotten bad. That car could have exploded at any time and if there is something to learn from this is that they never took their phones out.
They ran over and did something to help someone without thinking twice about it. I am proud to say that helping was their first response to the accident.”
The support Rome City Schools has from the community it serves is something Reid said he and his wife envisioned when they joined the system in 2015. He said that with the help of partners like Atrium Health Floyd, students in Rome City Schools can reach their goals and be highlighted for their accomplishments.
“We are certainly appreciative of the support from Atrium Health Floyd,” Reid said, “and other stakeholders who contribute to our kids.”