How to save a life: Teen helps man who fell, makes friend for life

AKRON – Seventy-three-year-old Jim Gifford and 16-year-old Jordan McNeil are an unlikely pair. The two talk everything from hobbies to love and relationships. While their differences are many, one thing binds them forever.

“Thank God, God put him there and saved my life. That’s all I can say; he saved my life,” Gifford says of Jordan.

It started on a hot day. Gifford was doing yard work and as he was putting a rake away in his shed he felt a terrible pain. “I closed the door and turned around and my hip popped out somehow, someway,” Gifford said.

Gifford fell to the ground. He didn’t have his cell phone, so he couldn’t call 911. “I grabbed the push broom and just started waving it and I don’t know how long I laid there,” he remembered.

Sometime later, Jordan and his friends were walking home from school nearby. They heard Gifford yelling and saw the broom waving in the air.

“We all yell, ‘do you need help?’ and he said ‘yes,’” he remembered. Jordan and his friends hopped the fence and ran to Gifford.

“My heart is pounding. I was like I’ve never been in a situation like this. They’ve never been in a situation like this; we’re all just high school kids,” Jordan says.

But Gifford says Jordan was a leader among his friends. “You know, he took charge; he said, 'go get that umbrella; go get him some water.' I said, 'he knows what he’s doing,'” Gifford said.

Jordan called 911 and waited with Gifford until help arrived.

“It’s somebody who needs help; it didn’t matter who it was or anything. It’s somebody who needs help. If they’re struggling or need something then I’m going to be there,” Jordan said.

But that day wasn’t the end for those two. Jordan has been back several times to check on his new friend, see how he’s doing and even shovel the driveway.

Dr. Debbie Plate with Cleveland Clinic Akron General says a few simple actions like Jordan’s can make a big difference if someone has fallen and is injured.

Plate says first, assess the situation. “Are they alert? Are they conscious? Are they talking? Are they in a lot of pain and do you need 911?” she said.

Second, Plate says if you’ve seen the fall you may have an idea of how serious it is, but if you didn’t see the fall, don’t rush to get the person up.

“Often times our family members are very anxious to help them get up and to move them when in fact that could be very detrimental,” Plate explained.

Third, Plate says to ask about medications, and if the person is on a blood thinner. Plate says you won’t know if the person has any internal bleeding, and prescription information is important for emergency responders.

Finally, Dr. Plate says to keep the person talking. Encourage them and keep them as alert as possible.

“Often times shock can set in to where this is someone you are going to want to talk to until help comes, so keeping them awake and having a conversation with them is very important,” she said.

Plate says just stopping to ask a few questions could make a world of difference.

“The really important message here is you could save a life and find a friend,” she said.

And that’s certainly true for Gifford and Jordan. “I don’t care if somebody judges me for being a soft person because I will be a soft person when it comes to helping people,” Jordan said.

“All you hear is bad stuff about the teenagers and he’s not one of them, this is a good kid and I really look up to him," Gifford said.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.The information above is based on experts in the medical/emergency medical field..