Firefighters at the Knoxville Fire Department found a surprising connection to their new summer intern: Several department members had helped at his birth.
Soon after O’Tavais “OT” Harris, 18, started his internship at the fire station, he and another firefighter were chatting. They made the connection that several current KFD firefighters were the ones helping when OT’s mother delivered a baby at home 18 years ago.
“It’s a small world!” the KFD posted on Twitter and Facebook along with a photo of Hariss with the three firefighters who helped deliver him. “In 2005 this KFD crew assisted in the delivery of Mr. OT Harris. Today this crew is working with Mr. Harris as part of the Summer in the City intern program!
It’s a small world! In 2005 this KFD crew assisted in the delivery of Mr. OT Harris. Today this crew is working with Mr. Harris as part of the Summer in the City intern program! pic.twitter.com/WKoo9eBZSv
— Knoxville Fire (@KnoxvilleFire) June 12, 2023
Harris is the seventh of Lateshia Hall’s 13 children and apparently didn’t want to wait for his planned hospital induction. Instead, two days prior — on New Year’s Day in 2005 — Hall found herself in labor at her mother’s house. After a call to 911, the Knoxville fire department crew showed up to help deliver Harris and cut the umbilical cord.
KFD assistant fire chief and paramedic Mark Wilbanks told “Today” that Hall was “calm, cool and collected.”
“Afterward, we cleared the scene and went back to the firehouse,” he said. “It’s just one of those things.”
Wilbanks could have had no idea he’d be the future summer program mentor for that same baby.
Harris is a recent graduate from Emerald Academy charter school in Knoxville and is set to start studying at East Tennessee State University this fall. He plans to major in English and minor in education. The 18-year-old already has his own business, OT’s Business Consulting. Wilbanks said the whole team has been impressed by the intern’s charisma and motivation.
“OT is special and on his way to leading well in Knoxville,” tweeted Steve Diggs, head of the Emerald Youth Foundation, in response to KFD’s tweet.
Harris is taking care of administrative tasks and social media for KFD as part of an eight-week paid internship through the City of Knoxville. Besides working inside a city department, Summer in the City interns also have weekly meetings about financial literacy, mental health, teamwork and social justice, among other topics. They also participate in two community service projects.
His mom, who gave birth to him so unexpectedly, reshared the “Today” story on her Facebook page, writing, “I am so proud of you and I can’t wait to see your next journey.”
Sounds like a young man with a bright future!