Trucker and 25-year volunteer fireman Art Lucas performed CPR and mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation to revive an unconcious woman.
After Art Lucas delivered a sculpture commemorating heroism in New York City in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedy, the seasoned trucker stopped at a Ghent, N.Y., restaurant because it had truck parking.
That small decision resulted in the volunteer fireman saving a stranger’s life, and his carrier, ABF Freight System, awarding him its first Medal of Excellence for an extraordinary deed of a life-changing nature.
On Sept. 3, 2003, the 49-year-old Akron, N.Y., resident was returning from delivering the three-ton sculpture to the New York State Firemen’s Home and Museum in Hudson. The sculpture’s creator, Brian Pfeiffer, Lucas’ close friend, was traveling with him.
After they sat down in the restaurant, employees came out of the kitchen and asked if anyone knew CPR. A waitress had fallen and hit her head, which resulted in her biting her tongue hard. She was now unconscious and bleeding profusely from the mouth.
“She was pulse-less and wasn’t breathing,” Lucas says.
The Advanced Emergency Medical Technician cleared the woman’s airway and began performing CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, with Pfeiffer assisting. Paramedics later credited Lucas with saving her life.
It wasn’t his first heroic act. On Sept. 11, 2001, Lucas went to NYC to work as a temporary for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, doing peer counseling of emergency workers and working in the morgue. “It was a really powerful experience,” Lucas says. “New York City has incredible people and resources. I worked with some real heroes.”
Lucas worked in the morgue with a medical examiner, taking DNA samples and attempting to identify the victims. “It’s not pleasant, but you learn techniques to deal with it,” he says.
Lucas works out of ABF’s Buffalo service center. The Arkansas-based LTL carrier granted Lucas’ request to volunteer his time and use ABF equipment to transport the sculpture titled Unity to a museum, where it is displayed on the front lawn.
Unity portrays a fireman, policeman and an emergency medical technician holding hands with a man, woman and child to signify those who died as well as those who helped that day.
Lucas has been a volunteer fireman for 25 years, serving 10 of those years as Akron fire chief. He is a CPR teacher for the American Heart Association, certified instructor for the Ambulance Accident Prevention Program of the New York Sate Department of Health, certified instructor for the Emergency Vehicle Operator Course by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and peer counselor for Western New York Stress Reduction Program, assisting emergency service personnel after unusually stressful situations.
He is also a member of both the Federal Emergency Response Team and the Homeland Security Response Team.
Lucas has driven for ABF since 1981 and been in trucking 1977. Lucas has received ABF’s Bronze Safe Driving Award for 15,000 hours of safe driving. He was the 2002 and 2003 winner of the New York State Western Regional Driver of the Year Award.
World’s Largest Truck Convoy
On Sept. 18, 2,500 trucks are expected to form the World’s Largest Truck Convoy to benefit Special Olympics.
The annual convoy began in 2000 as a Special Olympics Florida fund raiser. Since then, it has expanded to 27 states and received recognition by the Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Truck Convoy. This year’s convoy is expected to raise $250,000 for Special Olympics programs in the United States and Canada.
In each state, truckers will convoy seven to 30 miles along state highways with law enforcement escort officials. They will travel to another destination within the state where Special Olympics athletes, coaches, volunteers and family members will celebrate the truckers’ contribution with an event such as a picnic or awards ceremony.
The minimum donation to participate in the convoy is $100 per truck. Owner-operators can gain a sponsorship from their lease carrier, and trucking companies bid additional sponsorship funds to win the lead position in the convoy.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is organizing the convoy. The run began in 1981 when a Wichita, Kan., police chief was moved to raise funding and awareness of Special Olympics. The Torch Run was soon adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Last year, this international run raised more than $19 million for Special Olympics after more than 85,000 law enforcement officers carried the “Flame of Hope” across 35 nations.
Special Olympics is an international organization with the goal of promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities.
Carriers and truckers who want to participate can find more information on the convoy’s website at www.worldslargesttruckconvoy.com or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. General information is also available by calling (800) 700-8585.
The Only Samaritan
Trucker Jeremy Frank stopped when no one else would after a serious accident on a busy interstate.
Frank was driving on Interstate 77 in Akron, Ohio, making a delivery along his usual run to New York, when he came across an accident that had just happened. A vehicle was pinned between a concrete barrier and another car that had skidded across the highway.
Frank, of Zanesville, Ohio, was surprised that no one was on the scene to help, but without hesitation, he pulled his rig over to the side of the road. The female driver of the pinned vehicle was just stepping out of her car when he arrived on the scene.
“She complained of neck pain – luckily she had been wearing her seat belt – but she seemed OK otherwise,” Frank says of the middle-aged woman who was alone in the vehicle. “She was very upset; she grabbed hold of my hand and hugged me and asked me to pray with her.”
Frank tried to calm the woman and called her husband to let him know of the situation. He then checked on the condition of the male driver of the other vehicle, but the man was badly hurt and unable to move. Not wanting to move the injured man, Frank waited for paramedics to tend to the man.
Although he has been driving for only about four years, Frank said he has stopped to assist people involved in accidents before, but this is the first time he’s run into such a serious accident where no one else stopped to help.
“That’s what puzzled us because it’s a busy highway,” Frank says. “It was right around Christmas time, too, and no one else stopped. I felt I had to.”
The woman was so appreciative of Frank’s efforts that she later called the local newspaper and sent him a letter and gift certificate.
Frank also received a Highway Angel lapel pin, certificate and patch from the Truckload Carriers Association for his efforts, and his employer, U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc., received a certificate for acknowledging a Highway Angel in their midst.
Since its inception in August 1997, the Highway Angel program has recognized hundreds of drivers for the unusual kindness, courtesy and courage they have shown others while on the job. TCA has received letters and e-mails from people across the country nominating truck drivers for the program.
Nominate a Highway Angel
Highway Angels recognition is awarded for a driver’s good deeds, ranging from simple acts of kindness, like fixing a flat tire, to heroic life-saving efforts, like pulling someone from a burning vehicle and administering CPR. When you know of, witness or experience an exceptional act of kindness or courtesy by a truck driver, you can nominate that trucker for a Highway Angel award by filling out the electronic form at www.truckload.org or faxing the information to (703) 836-6610. Make sure the fax says “Attention Highway Angels program” on the cover sheet and that the driver’s name is clearly visible.
A former trucker who built and runs his own trucking company is a role model for drivers who say their sedentary job keeps them from staying fit and healthy.
Don Youngblood took up professional bodybuilding at the late age of 33.
Today, Youngblood, 50, is the owner of SDS Transportation and holds several bodybuilding titles. His first win was Arkansas State Masters Champion in 1994, followed by Arkansas State Overall Bodybuilding Champion in 1995. Just a few months later, he won the title of Masters National Bodybuilding Champion, which gave him professional status.
But his most impressive win came in 2002, when he was crowned Masters Mr. Olympia Champion, where he also placed runner-up in 2001. He toppled 2001 champ and bodybuilding legend Vince Taylor to take the 2002 title. At 5 feet 9 inches and an impressive 245 pounds during the season, Youngblood, nicknamed “The Beast,” is a formidable opponent.
But businessman and bodybuilder Youngblood is also a family man. He and his wife Sue, his high school sweetheart, have three children – Shannon, Don Jr. and Julie – and three grandchildren. Youngblood also has a pet bobcat named Maximus.
The youngest of nine children, Youngblood moved from California to Arkansas in 1975 to haul coal and gravel with a dump truck.
“After about six months, I decided to buy a new truck and go over the road,” he says. “[I] did that and just kept saving and adding equipment as I could afford. By 1980, I was running about 15 trucks and trailers and well on my way to where I am today.”
Today, Youngblood’s company, headquartered in Alma, Ark., runs 100 trucks, hauling frozen foods over the lower 48 for companies like Wal-Mart, Tyson and Cargill.
Youngblood says a typical day for him includes six meals spaced at three hours apart, 30 minutes on the Stairmaster in the morning, two hours at the gym at night – along with work from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“Of course sometimes that schedule changes a little here or there when crises arise throughout the day, as is typical in this business,” Youngblood says.
But Youngblood offers sound guidance for truckers. He says it can be hard for truckers to make the switch to a healthy lifestyle, like he did back in 1987.
“My advice to drivers to stay fit is first priority, diet,” he says. “It’s hard when you are on the road, finding restaurants that serve healthy choices, but they are becoming more conscious every day it seems, and menus are offering more low-fat and light choices. That would be the first thing.”
He also says that any cardio activity a trucker can fit into his or her days is good, such as a brisk 30-minute walk.
“I know sometimes everyone is on a tight schedule, but you just have to take time out for your health!”
Feeding the Needy
Two truckers didn’t want to be recognized, but they did want to donate a truckload of food and their help to hungry residents of Onslow County, N.C.
The brothers were independent truckers hauling 20,000 pounds of organically grown California vegetables, says Michael McCarthy, administrative assistant at Jacksonville’s Onslow Community Ministries.
Their truck broke down during their trip from California. While driving through Tennessee, they learned their customer had canceled the order because it would be late. The truckers then contacted the ministries, he said.
“It was just out of the blue,” McCarthy says. “We were pleased. It was beautiful stuff.”
The brothers had donated a few hundred pounds of fruit to OCM on an earlier occasion, McCarthy said. OCM is an association of more than 39 congregations that operate a soup kitchen and provide relief services.
On July 20, the truckers arrived and helped volunteers unload, he said.
“They were here from start to finish,” McCarthy says. “They were great guys. They weren’t interested in getting patted on the back.”