“I started to choke,” said Jennifer Yakubesan.
It was a typical evening. The family was having dinner before church, somewhere wild in Macomb County, Michigan. They were spaghetti. The flagship food of functional and happy families around the world.
“I couldn’t get it up…” says Jennifer. “I looked at my husband and my son, and I started doing this kind of pats on my chest.”
Andrew enters. Thirteen years. Tall. Baby face. He seems like a good boy. A Boy Scout.
Jennifer was about to lose consciousness when she felt her son’s arms wrap around her. She put her fist under her sternum. She started to squeeze.
The Heimlich maneuver is not easy. He requires strength. Place a closed fist over your navel. Grab the fist with the other hand. Pull your fist back and up, sharply. If this doesn’t work, perform chest compressions. If this doesn’t work, slap the victim between the shoulder blades.
If this doesn’t work, start praying the Rosary.
The Heimlich didn’t work. So Andrew patted his mother on the back. It was a Hail Mary pass, but he saved her.
“I think someone was with me there,” Andrew said. “I don’t know if he was God, or something like that.”
Andrew received the Boy Scouts National Award of Merit.
Meanwhile, about six states away, Boy Scout Troop 1299, from Allen, Texas, was on a bus trip to Wyoming. Go to summer camp.
The boys were doing what all boys do on buses. Laugh. hanging out Making powerful scents.
They had a few days to kill in Yellowstone National Park. They had seen most of the park except for a portion of the north loop.
Which is where they were when it happened.
“We were on our way to lunch,” says Brian, an adult volunteer. “We were going over these falls and we said, ‘Let’s stop real quick and let the adults take some pictures.'”
They parked. Landed. Everyone’s dad stretched his respective lower back. A stranger ran up to the group and desperately asked if there was a doctor on the bus.
A doctor, no. Explorers, yes.
Within moments, the scouts were trotting down the trail, ready to help a woman who had a trail emergency. They found a lady lying on the ground.
Heart attack. A crowd of rubber thieves gathered around him. There was an off-duty nurse performing chest compressions.
“She’s not breathing,” the nurse yelled.
Scoutmaster Jason Duglosch went to get the automated external defibrillator (AED) from the bus.
Now, I’ll pause here. Because I can hear some of you asking, “Why did the average Boy Scouts of Texas have expensive portable medical equipment on their bus?”
The answer is: because they are Boy Scouts.
Today, the woman is alive and well. And she has quite a story to tell.
A few weeks later, in Claiborne County, Tennessee, Crystal Thacker took medication for sinusitis and had an allergic reaction. One minute she was fine; the next, she was on the ground, dying.
“It almost felt like when your foot is asleep,” he recalls, “…it was really hard to breathe.”
Crystal’s son, Stewart, 16, knew his mother was in anaphylactic shock. He also knew what to do while the lifeguards were on their way. This is because Stewart is a Boy Scout. Troop 310. He has over 200 hours of medical training.
“I took an old blanket and stuff from the porch and made a kind of shelter with a sunroof, and reapplied ice packs. And then the ambulance showed up.”
Stewart received the National Certificate of Merit.
This kind of thing happens every day, even though you rarely hear about it. Yes, you hear a lot of other things about the Boy Scouts in the news. But it’s rarely good. This is part of the reason why Scouts are disappearing from the national scene.
When I was a kid, there were approximately 5 million Boy Scouts on the planet. i was one
Twenty presidents of the United States were Boy Scouts. John Wayne was an explorer. Neil Armstrong. Buzz Aldrin. Sam Walton. Hank Aaron. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, however, there are approximately 762,000 Scouts left in the US The reason for this sharp decline is not important at this time. I’m not here to raise issues. I’m not here to cause trouble. I’m not smart enough to offer an enlightened opinion.
However, I want to send a message to any wayward kid who is thinking about joining the Scouts but isn’t sure because their friends think being a Scout is nerdy and dumb.
Being a Scout is much more than making wallets and building birdhouses.
The Boy Scouts of America save lives.