Earle Smith of Dallas, Texas, doesn’t see himself as a coach. He calls his work a ministry.
As such, he strives to be a good role model for all the girls he trains in the Iconic Track Club. But he’s become much more than that to Nyla Banks, who will always remember him as her hero.
In late January, a normal track practice at W.T. White High School turned into a terrifying ordeal for the 10-year-old. She started feeling dizzy while running. Then she hit the ground.
“My head was hurting, and my chest was hurting. I don’t know what happened after that,” Nyla told NBC DFW.
“Coach said there’s no heartbeat. We can’t get a heartbeat,” her mom, Domeanica Carter-Banks added “It was the scariest moment because it got crazy pretty quick.”
Earle was never more grateful to be certified in CPR than in that moment. It had been 10 years since he underwent training, and despite never having used it before, he jumped right in — and brought Nyla back to life.
At the hospital, Nyla’s family learned she’d suffered cardiac arrest from a congenital heart condition that required surgery. Domeanica called it a ticking time bomb. It likely would have taken her daughter’s life if not for the coach’s actions.
“We’re grateful he was able to save our daughter’s life the way that he did,” she said.
As for Nyla, she proved herself to be one resilient girl. Just a few days after the incident, she was already up and giving interviews. She also looked forward to going back to school. The feeling was mutual among her classmates, who showed how much they missed her in a sweet display of support.
Now, Earle hopes their story will encourage others to learn CPR as well. The training is worth it even if you don’t have to use it, because one day, it could mean the difference between life and death. It certainly did for Nyla.
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