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EMT's heroism leads to award, new family

(Special to ETMC.ORG) 

By COSHANDRA DILLARD
Staff Writer

View original article at The Tyler PaperEMS Hero

What began as a chance meeting following a horrifying incident nearly 10 months ago, led to a special bond between the Thompson family, of Bullard, and the East Texas Medical Center EMT that saved their toddler's life. 

Brandon Porter, 22, has been recognized with a statewide award for his heroic efforts earlier this year. He gained a new family as well.

In late November, Porter was named EMS Person of the Year Award during a 2009 Texas EMS Conference at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The award honors EMS-certified personnel in Texas who demonstrate "uncommon leadership and courage" in providing emergency care.

Porter not only had family by his side at the conference, but he also had the support of Stacey Thompson - the mother of now 2-year-old Kennedy who lost consciousness following a seizure on Feb. 26 while she was traveling on Shiloh Road in Tyler. She nominated Porter and was the keynote speaker during the ceremony.

"I know that Brandon that day, and many who do the job he does each and every day just think that he was doing his job that day," Mrs. Thompson wrote in a nomination application. "But to us it was much, much more than that. He was doing more than his job. He was showing compassion and love when he didn't absolutely have to."

Insisting that he did nothing out of the ordinary, Porter said he never prepared a speech because he did not expect to receive the award. Surely, there were more heroic lifesavers, he thought. As the moment grew close and his family scrambled to prepare a speech for him, he just wanted to be spontaneous.

"It comes from the heart when you just wing it," he said.

On the day Porter made a U-turn to help Mrs. Thompson as he noticed Kennedy's limp body in her arms on the side of the road, many other passersby stopped and showed concern.

"It renewed my faith in people," she said. "I am just so extremely grateful for everyone that stopped to help us. Brandon just happened to be an EMT."

At that moment, Mrs. Thompson was fearful that she would lose her daughter. Just 18 months before the incident, she lost a son just after birth.

But Kennedy slowly began to breath and after the ambulance arrived, Porter still was there showing support. He even called to check on her several times. Mrs. Thompson described him as being professional and never nervous on that fateful day.

With the sense of urgency and the harrowing look on Mrs. Thompson's face, Porter said it seemed like a lot of time had lapsed, although it lasted no more than 15 minutes.

But with all the appreciation and the recognition, Porter said he doesn't want people to call him a hero.

"I appreciate it but I did what anybody else would have done," he said. "It's what I do for a living everyday."

"It shows just what a little bit of medical training can do," he said, referring to how he rubbed on the toddler's chest until she began breathing. "I think it opened everybody's eyes about what you can do with basic information. You never really know how you can change someone's life. You're making a difference."

Following several tests, doctors still are uncertain what triggered Kennedy's seizure, but she has not had any problems since. Being the protective mother, Mrs. Thompson continues to keep a watchful eye on her.

These days, Porter is a part of the family. Soon after the incident, Mrs. Thompson invited him over for dinner with the family, and they've shared a close bond since. He's like a big brother to the Thompson's three daughters and he will join them on a Colorado trip for Christmas.

Porter, an EMT-intermediate, has completed course hours for the next level - a paramedic-and looks forward to taking the test in about two weeks. The new title will allow him to read cardio monitors, start IVs and use a defibrillator on patients, among other things.

His ability to appropriately react during the life-saving episode makes the hours of school work worthwhile, he said.

"It just wraps up everything I've put into school. It all kind of paid off," he said.