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Office of County Executive
Mark A. Hackel

Employee Focus – Nick Champine – Juvenile Justice Center

By Sarah Cormier, Macomb County Executive Office

There is no such thing as an ordinary day at Macomb County’s Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) and Monday, March 16 proved to be no different, especially for JJC Youth Specialist Nick Champine.

That afternoon, Champine was performing one of his most routine tasks for his position, bringing in new residents who had recently been sentenced by the court to serve some time at the JJC. He had several of them sit on a bench, as is normal procedure, while they wait for their turn to check in. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Champine saw one of the female admits fall off of the bench and he heard her hit the ground hard. Champine rushed over to the teenager who quickly went from gasping for breath and hyperventilating, to appearing to not breathe at all.

“She was not responding to me. I checked to see if she was breathing and, if she was, it was so faint I couldn’t tell,” said Champine.

Champine immediately sprang into action, administering chest compressions on the female.

“I did about 15 to 20 (compressions) and then she started gasping,” he said. “She still wasn’t really ‘there,’ but she was breathing.”

Champine said the JJC has an official procedure employees are highly trained in for emergency situations at the facility. As soon as he had the admit breathing again, a nurse was by his side within seconds to assist. Very shortly after that, emergency services arrived to take the admit to the hospital. Luckily, she survived the ordeal.

“We are so proud of Nick,” said JJC Director Rhonda Westfall. “His quick, concise and calm response may have made all the difference in this situation. Nick used his training and knowledge to perform at the highest level to ensure the safety of the resident. The center is very fortunate to have a staff member with his level of competence, knowledge, compassion and professionalism.”

It would seem that this is Champine’s only brush with assisting someone in such peril conditions, but he said in his job at the JJC, he has been in a few situations where he has had to act quickly to assist a resident. He added this is a normal part of the job that every employee at the JJC accepts.

“I think that’s one thing we are all trained on and would treat the same way. Our number one priority is the kids’ safety,” he said. “It’s teamwork and it’s nice knowing staff is there to help you out.”

Champine, 26, graduated with a degree in criminal justice, but knew he didn’t want to go the law enforcement route. He said the JJC, which he has worked at since 2011, has helped him find his correct career path.

“I found something that I enjoy doing,” he said. “I like being able to work with the kids – to say something to them and have it click, to have them make positive choices.”

When he’s not working at the JJC, Champine is an avid athlete, playing all sorts of sports from basketball to golf. Champine is a lifelong Macomb County resident who grew up in New Baltimore. A year ago, he purchased his first home with his fiancé in Chesterfield Township. The couple plans to marry next April.

“I enjoy being by the water,” he said of why he lives in Macomb County. “It’s home.”