A "Hero's" press release | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A "Hero's" press release

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Thomas Hudson, the Little Rock man who helped fire fighters rescue a woman and child from a submerged vehicle after heavy rains in Little Rock last week, issued this release.  In it, he questions the use of the term "hero" to describe him and calls on others to help out in their communities.

All this “hero” talk is exciting to me, but also troublesome. Is "heroism" something to which we all can aspire, and to which we all are called, in duty to our neighbors? Or does naming a firefighter a "hero", for instance, excuse the rest of us from the duty of dragging a stranger from a burning building?

I give myself a "C" for that night. Subtract two letter grades for not having my rope more organized, for not realizing the car would go so deep, and for not having a metal tool in hand when I swam out to the vehicle.

I had not wrapped my mind around the intense panic that overtakes a person who cannot swim when he or she is surrounded by lethal water. Even as I swam out, I thought, in the absolute worst scenario, I will be carrying these people from the vehicle's rooftop back to shallow water. But in that vehicle, the airbags were going off, the power locks and windows were malfunctioning, and Amanda and Zeke were moving away from the open driver's side window to the rear of the cabin to keep their heads above water.

A “Hero’s” Press Release

On Thursday, October 29. after record-breaking downpours in Little Rock, fate arranged for my small part in a harrowing water rescue of a mother and 12-year-old son from a sinking SUV.

The next three days brought equally staggering showers of praise to me, a “hero,” as well as sharp criticism of KARK 4, whose journalists made no effort to intervene as they broadcast the dramatic rescue on live television. The video became one of the most viewed clips of the weekend on CNN.com.

All this “hero” talk is exciting to me, but also troublesome. Is "heroism" something to which we all can aspire, and to which we all are called, in duty to our neighbors? Or does naming a firefighter a "hero", for instance, excuse the rest of us from the duty of dragging a stranger from a burning building?

I give myself a "C" for that night. Subtract two letter grades for not having my rope more organized, for not realizing the car would go so deep, and for not having a metal tool in hand when I swam out to the vehicle.

I had not wrapped my mind around the intense panic that overtakes a person who cannot swim when he or she is surrounded by lethal water. Even as I swam out, I thought, in the absolute worst scenario, I will be carrying these people from the vehicle's rooftop back to shallow water. But in that vehicle, the airbags were going off, the power locks and windows were malfunctioning, and Amanda and Zeke were moving away from the open driver's side window to the rear of the cabin to keep their heads above water.

Arriving at the SUV’s left rear side (the least submerged), I pulled at the door handles, shouted to Amanda and Zeke, grabbed the luggage rack and kicked at the windows underwater. I stood on the exhaust pipe in water over my head and punched the little bit of glass above the water with everything I had, which may have broken my hand. Without the firefighters’ arrival, I could have been at least a minute more before returning from my truck with a tool to break the window, during which time Amanda and Zeke may or may not have lost the few inches of air remaining under the roof.

So I give myself a "C", which may be generous. Others cannot grade themselves until they take the test.

I tried to help that night, as I expect the same from anyone else if it is my ass, or anyone else’s, in trouble. It is our duty as humans, to all other humans, to do for others as we would have them do for us, to love our neighbors as ourselves.

And by neighbors, I mean anyone, anywhere, in need. In the comfort of this country, we easily forget about our neighbors, both locally and abroad. Death from simple diarrhea kills more people every day than any other ailment. And right now, in this state, we have hundreds of victims coping with the loss of their homes from natural disaster.

The journalists of KARK 4 deserve no blame for making no attempt to help the occupants of the sinking vehicle. They watched helplessly from across 100 feet of dark black water, and they knew help was on the way.

Most of the time, the only dark water that separates us from those in need is in our minds and hearts. Yet help is rarely on the way with the timing caught on video Thursday night. What are you doing to be a hero?

We have wonderful organizations such as Heifer International, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, to keep us plugged in. Or next time a tornado or hurricane strikes, give me a call.

Find out what you can do. Help people when you have the chance. All the mundane things you can do will mentally prepare you to step up to task when shit hits the fan.

Start taking small risks and build a good risk/gain calculator in your head. Help out people in disaster zones. Talking to someone who has lost everything puts life in perspective. We are here to help each other.

(My near-future plans include returning to East Camden to remove tornado debris, and driving to New Orleans to help rebuild homes. I could use your help.)

Thomas Hudson


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