Boy Scout earns medal for saving brother

Published 9:03 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

It was a normal morning in the Lawrence household in Davie County.

But that quickly changed.

Andrew Lawrence, a senior at Davie High School, noticed something was wrong with his younger brother, Jackson. He had stopped talking, was shaking uncontrollably and was having trouble breathing.

An Eagle Scout, Andrew said the training he received in Scouting sent him into action. That action helped save his brother’s life, and last month, he was awarded Medal of Merit from the Boy Scouts of America, one of the highest attainable.

“I heard him stop talking and I turned around and he was falling over,” Andrew said. “He was shaking … and I could tell he was having trouble breathing.”

He thought his younger brother may be choking, so he performed the Heimlich, a maneuver he learned in Scouting. That didn’t work, so Andrew lay his brother down and began to perform CPR, another Scouting skill.

During the process, he also called 911.

“I just mainly tried to keep him awake until the paramedics got there, but it was very scary,” he said. “This whole time I’m trying to think of what I need to be doing, just so he can be breathing and aware. I tried to do anything I could to help him start breathing and then keep him awake and listen to what the dispatcher was telling me.”

Jackson, 16, was later diagnosed with epilepsy, and had suffered a seizure.

“The adrenaline was definitely pumping through my blood,” Andrew said. “I was screaming and yelling his name, trying to get him to respond. My heart was pounding and I was just trying to stay as focused as I could and do what I could to keep him awake.”

Also a lifeguard, he said the skills he had learned came in handy, though he didn’t think so at the time he was earning merit badges.

“When you’re training in Scouts for these merit badges, at first it doesn’t feel like it’s helping because you’re like, ‘I’m never going to use this,’ and sure enough when the time came I was prepared.”

He gave credit to his Scout leaders and merit badge counselors. He was hesitant to be a part of the public ceremony that praised his heroism.

Scouting, he said, is a great program. “It teaches you so many life skills you never think you’ll need – but you will need them.” He joined Cub Scouts in the first grade, Boy Scouts in the sixth.

“I’m not really the type of person who wants all this attention. I don’t feel the need to have an award. I’m just thankful for my brother being alive and for my family.”

His father, Jason Lawrence, is a Scoutmaster for Troop 575. His mother, Kati, pinned the award on his uniform during the Dec. 17 ceremony at Camp Manna. Both of his younger brothers, Jackson and Daniel, are also Scouts.

“With the repetitiveness and the constant practice of these abilities and skills, when something like this happens, he doesn’t have to think ‘What do I do?’ He just knows and he jumps right into it,” his father said.

Jason Lawrence said the whole ordeal feels surreal at times, but it is gratifying to know that his work as a father and Scoutmaster is paying off.

“It’s so much pride to know that he knew what to do and God put him in the right spot at the right time and he was able to save his own brother’s life. It’s amazing to me,” his mother said.

Jackson Lawrence is also thankful for his older brother. “He’s probably one of the first people I would want to be there to help me if something like that happens,” he said.