A quick-thinking Vancouver teen is being hailed as a hero after saving an elderly resident at the Portland Hotel.
Cole Small launched into quick action when he saw Bill Thompson suffer a heart attack, performing CPR and keeping Thompson alive until first responders arrived.
And yesterday those first responders in turn honoured Small, 18, presenting him with a medal at Vancouver Fire Hall No. 2.
“Cole Small’s efforts were certainly heroic,” said Lieut. Carol Messenger. “He’s living proof that miracles happen.”
Thompson languished in hospital for the past month following his near-death experience, but managed to recover enough to attend Monday’s celebration.
For Small, it’s the second time he’s been called into a life-or-death situation in the Downtown Eastside – recently he tried to revive another Portland Hotel resident, (unsuccessfully), but this time the hotel worker was able to save a life.
“He knew what death’s door looked like,” said Messenger, saluting the teen’s act of heroism – and his now-veteran approach to CPR. “He knew that Bill was quite ill – he phoned 911 and kept him alive until first responders arrived.”
The fire department celebration even had some real-time drama – as Small was receiving his award, many of the firefighters on hand suited up and rushed out to a call aboard a ladder truck with sirens blaring.
Beaming with pride was Cole’s dad, on hand to see his young son feted by fire officials.
“I really can’t tell you how proud I am,” said Dan Small, his voice choking with emotion. “We all need heroes, but I can’t believe it’s my son.
“I remember an eyeblink ago when he was just a toddler.”
The teen himself wasn’t taking too much credit – just advising others to take a course in life-saving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
“I think it’s very important for people to learn CPR,” said Small, who’s worked at the Portland for 11 months.”Maybe it’s the training – I just used my gut instinct.
“I just needed to deal with the situation.”
Young Cole has seen enough that he’s probably going to pursue a career saving lives. The youngster plans to either be a paramedic or sign up with those who presented him with a life-saving medal and become a firefighter.