Seventh grader Logan Miers probably isn’t the first kid to accidentally smash the screen on the living room TV because he was trying to hit a Nerf dart with a bat inside the house, but he’s probably the first kid to get away with it because he’s a town hero.
It hasn’t been two months since his grandmother Cindy Maxam cried out and fell to the ground unconscious. She had suffered from worsening Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) for years. This wasn’t her first health scare, she had been on and off a ventilator for years, but it was the first time she had stopped breathing at home with Logan present.
“We had been in and out of the hospital with her for years,” Logan recalled. “She would just get really sick and go in for a few days then come back.”
This time was different. There was no warning. Logan just ran into the kitchen and saw his grandmother on the floor and immediately began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR.)
“What went through your mind when you saw her on the floor?,” I asked.
“Nothing,” he answered simply. “It was just second nature.”
Logan knew what had to be done and he did it for 15 minutes while talking to the 911 operator and waiting for the EMS to arrive. Because of his swift action she was still alive when the ambulance arrived. She lived for a whole other week.
“Because of you she lived long enough for the rest of the family to have a last chance to see her,” I said to Logan.
“I dunno,” he said modestly.
His mother Lacy does know.
“Honestly all I can say is that he is a hero in my book,” she said with pride. “He gave our family seven days to say goodbye because he didn’t hesitate to help her.”
“In my eyes as well as many others, he is a hero,” Waylan Wilczek, the captain of the Westmoreland Volunteer Department, insisted. He presented Logan with an award at his recent “moving-up” ceremony marking his graduation from sixth to seventh grade.
“In my 20 years as a first responder I have had many ‘codes.’ Some were saves, some were not,” Wilczek said. “The main thing is that he did something when so many others would panic or freeze.”
“I never knew this kid would know what to do,” his cousin Westmoreland Firefighter Hunter Besig added. “What do most 11-year-old kids do?”
“Play video games,” Logan laughed.
“In that situation, most kids would freeze up," Hunter added.
The main reason Logan did know what do to and didn’t freeze up has to be because he has such a good role model in his cousin Hunter who signed up for the fire department the day he turned 16.
“Hunter wanted to be a fireman before he could talk,” his mom, Brooke Rattray, recalled. “We had every rescue vehicle [toy] there was. He’d have them lined up through the house responding to an ‘accident scene.'"
She remembered how her son would use their shed to pretend he was in a scene from the movie, “Backdraft.”
“When he was 6 or 7, Santa brought him his own turnout gear and portable radio,” she said, adding that she kept it all this time so that he can pass it along to Hunter when he is older.
Hunter told me how his first call came to his pager when he was in high school art class. He technically wasn’t supposed to leave school for non-fire EMS calls, but he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“The teacher asked if I was allowed to go, and I said ‘Yep!,’” he still remembered running to the station across the football field that day.
He jumped off the lawnmower and rode his bike to the station for the second call.
“My mom had been yelling at me for a week to mow the lawn,” he laughed. “I only got two and a half passes done when the pager went off. She called me and said, ‘Why isn’t that lawn mowed?’”
He rode his bike to the station and got to help carry the fire hose. Because he was only 16, he was required to stay clear of the blaze until it was well under control. It is something he will never forget.
One of Hunter’s most important duties right now is mentoring his young cousin and convincing him that what he did was extraordinary and brave. While Logan kept his grandmother alive long enough to get to the hospital and hang on for an additional week, no one could reverse the toll COPD had taken on her body. The week Logan bought his grandmother was borrowed time.
Sometimes Logan feels like what he did “didn’t work.”
“But she didn’t die on the kitchen floor,” I argued. “She would have if not for you.”
“Sometimes I feel like it broke people’s hearts more because they did have time to say goodbye,” Logan said sadly.
“It didn’t” Hunter and I said together.
“On the way to the hospital they got her pulse back,” Hunter added. “She squeezed everyone’s hand.”
When Hunter, who is now 20, was younger, he and Logan would ride their bikes to the fire department to hang out with their uncle Brad White. Now Hunter drives him. Logan can’t wait to sign up in four years.
“So, what else do you do beside save lives?,” I asked. “How do 11-year-olds spend their summer?”
Going to each other’s house and playing sports,” Logan answered. “In the summer it’s football.”
He also plays basketball and baseball. In school his favorite subject is P.E. and math.
“I passed math with a 92,” he said. “I always knew numbers in my head. That gets me in trouble in school because they want me to show the work.”
Those numbers in his head helped him keep time and count his compressions that night he had to do compressions for 15 long minutes.
Hunter took out his phone and showed us the funny video of his cousin swinging the bat and accidentally smashing the TV.
“Our grandma watched ‘Blue Bloods’ on ION [TV Network] on that TV,” he laughed.
Even with a new one, Logan reports that sometimes they will come home, and it will be on and tuned to her favorite shows.
“She’s sending you message,” I suggested. “She’s saying ‘thank you.’”
Hunter then showed us a picture of his 18-month-old son.
“Look, you can see a butterfly landed on him,” he said.
“Maybe that was your grandmother coming back to say goodbye,” I told Logan.
“The only problem is that the dragonfly died,” he replied instantly.
There was a silence.
“So, are you going to play baseball in the living room again?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said instantly, and laughed.
Logan is still a kid. Someday he will outgrow “indoor baseball” and in time he will understand how heroic it was for him to give his grandmother a little more time on Earth. A week goes by fast when you are young and its summertime; it’s hard to grasp how significant seven days can be when you’re young. But his mother believes that with the help of this town he is starting to.
“It wasn’t until our awesome community rallied around him, that he started to realize what an amazing thing he did," she said.
Ron Klopfanstein welcomes your comments, questions, and story ideas. Like him atFacebook.com/BeMoreWestmoand follow him atTwitter.com/BeMoreWestmo