When a person's oxygen supply is cut off, rescuers have only a few minutes to bring the person back before irreversible damage is done.
In Tom Hall's case, those golden minutes were in play on Valentine's Day 2012 as he lay trapped under the tractor he had just been working on at a Whiteford repair shop.
One of his co-workers happened to be Kyle Harrington, a Whiteford volunteer firefighter. Harrington saw what had happened and performed CPR on Hall after the tractor was taken off him.
Harrington successfully revived Hall, who was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment. Hall has since recovered and attended the Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company's annual banquet Saturday to celebrate with Harrington and other Whiteford personnel who responded to the scene.
"We had a really good crew that day, and I really should had died, and I'm thankful to all of you," Hall told company members who gathered in the Whiteford firehouse with their families.
He said later that Harrington's actions were "really, really important to me being here today."
The company's Lifesaving Award was presented to Harrington Saturday.
Whiteford leaders recognized several other members – and non-members – who provide vital support services to the company, including EMS Lt. Marianna Adams, who also stocks the fire station kitchen and cooks for her fellow fire and EMS personnel; Kati and Lorenzo Mannino, owners of the firehouse's neighbor on Route 165 (Pylesville Road), Buon Gusto Pizzeria & Grill, who provide food to personnel on fire and accident scenes, and founding members Elvara and Tom Petty.
The Pettys were among the members of the Whiteford community who helped found the fire company in 1997, bringing in many veterans who had been part of the Delta-Cardiff Volunteer Fire Company, just north of the Pennsylvania line.
The Pettys have spent the past decade and a half cooking for Whiteford personnel, setting up for events, helping with fundraising and many more tasks.
"I enjoyed doing the dinners for the people because they enjoyed eating it," Elvara said.
"She was the cook and I was the helper," Tom added.
The couple have said they plan to cut back their workload for the company, but will be available if needed.
"We're still going to be here, help out all we can," Tom said.
The company also honored those who stood by in the firehouse for several days last November as Superstorm Sandy struck the Mid-Atlantic coast.
Rusty Leftwich, the former deputy chief who was emcee of Saturday's banquet, said company personnel spent 588 "man hours" in the firehouse during Sandy.
Chuck Mohr, the fire company treasurer, was also honored for his administrative work with the company.
People of the year
Lt. Drew Pritt was Whiteford's EMS Worker of the Year for 2012; the EMS Rookie of the Year was Kyle Sizemore.
Chris Niner was the Firefighter of the Year – he was not at Saturday's banquet to receive his award because he was out of town.