Mother’s Day traditionally symbolizes family and embodies the sacrifice that mothers universally exemplify. This past Mother’s Day, one Entergy Arkansas employee made a tremendous sacrifice by risking his life to save another.
Senior Relay Tech Brandon Smith started Mother’s Day trying to do something special for his wife to celebrate the day. “When I asked her what she wanted to do this year, she wanted to go on a picnic at the Buffalo National River. That was an easy request to accommodate and sounded like a peaceful day,” said Smith.
Little did he know the day he planned with the family eating and swimming would turn to be anything but peaceful. Soon after arriving and getting the area setup, Smith heard frantic yelling and screaming. Not knowing what was happening, he immediately ran to investigate the noise. Around the bend of the river, he saw a man in the water getting pulled to shore. Smith immediately acted on his Entergy Arkansas training and jumped into the water to help.
“To be honest, I was worried something bad happened because the body was limp when we pulled him to shore. My instincts just kicked in and I had to immediately help get him to shore.”
Smith had noticed earlier in the day that the water was higher-than-average because it had rained a few days before, causing the waterflow to be stronger than normal. There was a fisherman wading in the river and the current caused him to be pulled under water. Two people fishing nearby tried to save him and got swept under as well. Thankfully the fishermen popped back up above the water and were able to start the rescue before Smith arrived.
“I’ve grown up around the water being an avid outdoorsman. The water can be more powerful than you think, and you must learn to respect it.”
Once the man was safely on the shore, Smith went to work. Thinking he was going to have to administer CPR, he quickly prayed for wisdom and the ability to remember his training. Smith immediately checked the victim’s breathing and heard a faint wheezing sound. From his training, he knew to roll the victim over to prepare to clear their airways. When he did, the victim started coughing out water.
Smith, who is bilingual, noticed the bystanders speaking in Spanish and calmed the chaotic scene by telling them to call 911 for an emergency and to get towels prepared to keep the victim warm. Emergency personnel arrived and transported the man to the hospital. Thanks to Smith’s efforts, the victim survived the harrowing incident.
As the scene unfolded, onlookers celebrated the extraordinary act of heroism they had just witnessed. Smith, however, remained modest about his actions, crediting his instincts and a sense of responsibility to his community.
“I’m just thankful he was ok, and I was able to perform and have a clear head. For me, I didn’t question jumping into action to help because I had a moral responsibility to help this man,” said Smith. “It was just about being in the right place at the right time.”
Being in the right place at the right time seems to happen often for Smith. This wasn’t the first time he saved someone around the water. Last year, a similar situation happened on Lake Ouachita where two children were swept away by the current and he pulled them out of the water with his brother-in-law’s help.
This type of self-sacrificing attitude hasn’t gone unrecognized, as Smith was recently awarded Entergy’s President’s Lifesaving Award for his lifesaving efforts. This award is the most prestigious award that Entergy Arkansas employees can receive.
“I thought no one knew about it because I’m not someone that seeks out recognition,” Smith said. “I sent a text message to my supervisor just to let him know about the situation if word got back to my coworkers. Next thing I know he called me and said he was nominating me for this award.”
His coworkers are proud of the lifesaving efforts and have come accustomed to his desire to serve others. Smith’s heroic act serves as a poignant reminder of the power of compassion and the potential for everyday individuals to make a significant impact. In a world often consumed by self-interest, his actions demonstrate the strength of the human spirit and the willingness to go above and beyond for a fellow human being.
“I was just doing my job. This is above and beyond anything I ever thought would come of this situation. I’m just overwhelmed and blessed.”