Robby Bannister is as sweet and kind as the four-year-olds he teaches. He’s also a creature of habit who thrives on routine.
“My wife calls me a rule follower. I’m all about schedules because we have to be about schedules in here; that’s the only way they learn and they’re so used to them and we follow it to a tee every single day so I follow it to a tee when I’m not here either,” Bannister said.
Bannister leaves for work at Golden Strip Child Development Center at 6:45 every morning, but on September 18, 2019 he was running behind. He took his usual route down Pleasantburg Drive. During his commute he witnessed a car wreck that Greenville Police have called a case of road rage.
“It’s still as clear now as it was a month ago,” Bannister said, “I was there when the accident happened. I came upon the scene. I went to help the driver of the car, but when I turned the corner, I noticed someone laying on the road.”
“For a microsecond it is like, “Is this real?” And then, I was like, “Oh, it is,” and I immediately went and did what we are trained here to do - check the scene, that’s what I did first; and then I immediately went to him and noticed he was unresponsive and wasn’t breathing.”
Bannister found a 13 year-old League Academy middle school student unresponsive. The boy had been walking his sister to the bus stop when he was struck by a car. Robbie began performing CPR. He’s trained as a first responder at his school.
“I knew what I had to do,” he said. “So I immediately started CPR. I was doing that and praying as well. I mean, God got me through this situation - He put me there for a reason and He also calmed me and helped me to be able to utilize what I knew in that moment because as much as we train, you know, it’s still different when it’s a real person. So in that moment I was doing the CPR, and I knew I had to call 9-1-1 because no one else was there; it was just me. So I did 30 compressions, which is what we’re supposed to do, and then I stopped and then I got my phone and I dialed 9-1-1 real quick, and then I went to talk then I went back to compressions with one arm,” Bannister said.
Robby took a few days away from work and received counseling for the trauma. He then requested to meet the boy and his family. Even though the recovery will be long for the boy, Robby says it did his heart good to see the child smiling in the hospital.
“I don’t like the word “hero”. If you want to call them heroes, I mean, you call the firemen, the EMS, policemen, doctors and nurses heroes too,” Bannister said. “Because what I learned from that, what really opened my eyes is the fact that I did it one time. And it was traumatic; and it’s still taking me time to get over it, and yet you have all those first responders doing it multiple times a day, multiple times a week.”
Bannister may not claim the title of hero, but he is one, to first responders, the victim’s family and to the school district that employs him.
“God’s got a plan for that boy, but he needed me to intervene a little bit I guess,” he said.