Alexandria, Virginia

Michael Taylor, a professional truck driver for FTC Transportation, Inc., of Oklahoma City, Okla., has been named a Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Highway Angel for helping a man survive a medical emergency.

On December 21, 2008, Taylor was driving from Atlanta to Nashville and had stopped at Patty’s Truck Stop in Adairsville, Georgia, to get lunch and watch some football before getting back on the road. While he was there, a shivering man came in to get something to eat and warm up from the 14-degree temperature outside.

Taylor and the man chatted briefly. The man stated that he used to be a truck driver, but had left the profession after having heart surgery. After the conversation, he moved to another table, but soon started breathing hard and leaning over. He fumbled in his pocket, found something small and put it in his mouth. Taylor, whose grandfather had suffered from a heart condition, realized that the man was doing something he had seen his grandfather do many times: swallow a nitro-glycerin pill.

At first, the man started to relax, and Taylor thought the pill had worked. But suddenly, he clutched his chest and fell to the floor. Taylor shouted to the fuel desk attendant to call for an ambulance. Taylor, who used to be assistant chief of a rescue squad, began talking to the man, patting his cheeks and searching for a pulse. There was none.

A truck stop employee named Blanche came to assist Taylor. Together, they began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Blanche performed the chest compressions, while Taylor gave artificial respiration. The man had no pulse and was not breathing, but after a minute or two of CPR, he revived momentarily. He then stopped breathing a second time, and Taylor and Blanche again gave CPR and revived him.

By the time the paramedics arrived, the man was revived enough to talk weakly. As emergency personnel rushed the heart attack victim out of the truck stop to begin transporting him to the hospital, Taylor and the truck stop employees remained together for a moment in the now silent room, contemplating the enormity of what had just happened.

“All of a sudden, Blanche and the others started hugging my neck and thanking me over and over,” said Taylor. “I didn’t understand why they were thanking me. I was just doing what anybody would do. But then Blanche started crying and said to me, ‘Thank you for doing for that man what nobody could do for my own brother. He had a heart attack last year. No one was able to help him, and we lost him.’ I think I started crying right along with her at that point.”

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for the exemplary kindness, courtesy, and courage they have displayed while on the job.