The following experience happened to a colleague of mine at the Arizona Chapter of the NSA. Larry Colbert is visually impaired and uses a guide dog, Banner, to help him get around. Now, I’m a softy when it comes to animals, especially dogs. I freely admit to being a dog person and this touched me deeply, not only because I know the gentleman and his companion. The writer of this account is Larry’s girlfriend, Sandy DeNeui. It shows how an everyday person can become a hero during a crisis.
“Friday the 13th came with more than one miracle for Larry and his guide dog Banner. Larry and Banner were on their way to a speaking engagement in Nevada. Larry took a cab from his house to Sky Harbor.
Somehow, and that looms as the huge unanswered question, Banner received a gash in his leg while riding in the back seat of the cab. Larry said that Banner yelped and jumped from the floor boards onto the seat shortly before they arrived at the airport. This was highly unusual because Banner is extremely well trained, but since Larry cannot see, he didn’t realize that Banner was injured, so he got his bag and holding Banner’s harness, proceeded into the airport.
Larry said that Banner just led him along as if nothing was wrong…. then a man (Phoenix airport security), stopped them and asked if he could help. I guess that is when the urgency of the situation came to light.
Later, Troy (Southwest Customer Service), the young man who saved Banner’s life, told me that Banner would most certainly have gotten Larry to the airplane and bled to death in the process if someone had not intervened. But the ground crew employees of Southwest Airlines took it upon themselves to change Banner’s fate.
Larry telephoned me and said… “I need your help, Banner is hurt.” I knew by the sound of his voice that this was a real emergency. I blasted out of the house and across town to the airport. On the way I telephoned the vet’s office to alert them that we would be coming in…. and carried an on going conversation with Larry and one of the Southwest Airline employees. When I finally arrived a police car with emergency lights on had cleared a place for me to park…. a walkway had been cleared through the throng of onlookers…. Banner was on the floor with Larry beside him, and eight or ten uniformed people some kneeling some crouching were gathered around Banner, who was in great distress.
Larry was splattered in blood from his waist down, there was blood everywhere and on everyone. Troy lifted Banner and carried him to the car. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Troy’s hand was clenched around Banner’s leg to stop the flow of blood. Banner, Troy and Larry got in the back seat of my car and away we went. When we arrived at the vet’s three young women emerged with a stretcher and rolls of tape. They wrapped the leg right there, so that Troy could release his grip, but Troy who by then was like a family member, carried Banner inside, sans stretcher.
Banner underwent surgery almost immediately. He had sliced the major vein to his leg and nicked an artery, and those employees of Southwest Airlines who left their posts to render aid quite simply kept Banner alive until Dr. Bastek could work her magic. Troy told me many hours later that he was still in shock from the whole experience…. and that he felt a bond with Banner and Larry that he didn’t want to lose track of.
Larry took a later flight to Las Vegas for his speaking engagement. He said that the legend of Banner preceded him and that every Southwest employee he met along the way asked about Banner (who is recovering nicely).
All in all, it was a Friday the Thirteenth to remember… and a time to realize that there are everyday people out there just waiting to be heroes. I saw dozens of heroes yesterday.
Larry managed just fine with his “white stick” on his engagement in Nevada. He said he missed the freedom that Banner allows him, and of course was worried about Banner too. The Southwest Airline employees sent Banner flowers and a balloon as a get-well gift. I think he really liked it! What a weekend! Those employees were more than heroes….. they were angels in disguise.”
To check on Banner’s progress and learn more about speaker and author, Larry C. Colbert, “It takes action to achieve vision!” go to DrivingVision.com.