'Gift of Life' award honors quick-acting rescuers Coach, paramedics saved boy hit by car


When Paul William Ganoe showed up at Guilford Park to help coach the first day of Little League baseball May 2, he couldn't have expected he would end the day a hero.

But Mr. Ganoe rapidly shifted his attention from baseball to life-saving when fourth-grader Brandon Whitacre was accidentally struck in the parking lot by his mother's car. The 41-year-old Savage man raced to the side of the injured boy and kept him from going into shock until an ambulance arrived, witnesses said.

Last night, Mr. Ganoe was among scores of rescue workers and four civilians awarded "Gift of Life" awards and other honors at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City. Emergency workers Kevin Aftung, Charles King and Rodney Miles also were recognized for saving Brandon's life. The awards are given to honor outstanding efforts by citizens and emergency workers.

"I think it's a good idea that they're being recognized for the work that they did," said Brandon's mother, Brigitte Whitacre, 31, of North Laurel. If they hadn't acted quickly, "he would not have survived," she said.

Mr. Ganoe said he was just trying to help. "I feel very privileged in accepting the award," he said Tuesday. "I didn't do it to be the big hero of the day."

Brandon, a Hammond Elementary School fourth-grader who suffered a fractured skull from the accident, has recovered.

The accident occurred as he and his younger brother Grant were about to begin their first day of Little League baseball with the Savage Boys and Girls Club at Guilford Park. Brandon was going to pitch and Grant was going to be an outfielder.

With the parking spaces full by 9 a.m., their mother decided to drop them off and try to find a parking space.

She thought Brandon had run toward the field. She saw Grant, 7, in front of the car tying his shoestrings, she recalled. "I assumed Brandon had already left."

As she backed up her Buick Skyhawk she felt something, Ms. Whitacre recalled. "I looked in the rear view mirror to see what it was," she said. "It felt like a curb, but I knew it wasn't because there weren't any."

Ms. Whitacre said she got out of her car and saw that a rear tire had run over her son's head.

"I basically kept screaming. I was in shock," she said. Her screams attracted the attention of Mr. Ganoe, the assistant Little League coach and a former volunteer firefighter. He ran to comfort her son and to prevent him from going into shock until paramedics arrived.

Mr. Ganoe said he kept the boy's airway open and "kept him calm, cool and collected."

An onlooker dialed 911.

"They didn't believe he'd make it to the helicopter," which landed on the baseball field then flew him to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, Ms. Whitacre said.

On the way, Brandon stopped breathing but was revived by the paramedics, said Battalion Chief Donald R. Howell, a fire and rescue services spokesman.

Hospital staff members said that without Mr. Ganoe and the paramedics' pre-hospital care, the outcome might not have been "a positive one," Mr. Howell said.

Since the accident, the boy has undergone surgery twice and the right side of his face is paralyzed, his mother said. He remained hospitalized for two weeks.

But his mother says his doctor has cleared him to play baseball this year.

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