City honors rescuers of drowning man

Franklin City Council members and the Franklin Fire Department honored a cadre of citizens Tuesday who saved a man from drowning on May 28.

Fire Chief Chuck Bourgeions and Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Hildreth presented those citizens present at the City Council meeting with awards for their heroism.

Hildreth said “a chain of survival” was enacted to save Morris Thibeaux who fainted and fell into Bayou Teche shortly after noon. He fell face-first and was floating face down.

“Galen Gaudet frantically called for help,” Hildreth said. “That was the first link in our chain. Tyler Dantin was down the bayou, pondering life. Jana Gauthreaux was at her house enjoying a day off and they both heard Galen’s cries for help.”

Both responded, Hildreth said. Justin Hunt happened to be “driving down a street that he never drives down, stopped, heard all the commotion, and called 911.”

He also commended 911 operators Pat Concienne and Lana Fromenthal during the crisis.

“That started the ball in motion,” he said. “Chief Bourgeois initiated a program a year ago where when tones go off we have a service that they automatically go out over our cellphones. Brandi Lege is a paramedic with Acadian Ambulance and a member of our department. She picked up on the call almost immediately.”

Lege and Mirranda Leonard were on Cayce Street when the call came in and responded at once.

Dantin at that point jumped into the water and grabbed ahold of Thibeaux, “but the current was carrying her away,” Hildreth said. “Tony Scelfo was there with a rope, threw the rope to her, and without those two links coming together the chain would have been broken.”

Scelfo was able to haul them to the shore with the rope. Gauthreaux, a licensed practical nurse, instructed Dantin to turn Thibeaux over. He was still breathing.

Gauthreaux positioned him to clear the fluid from his lungs.

Police and fire personnel arrived within one minute of the 911 dispatch.

Lege took charge when Acadian arrived and “performed skills that are extremely difficult in a clinical setting, and she hit them on the mark the first time every time. She was able to administer an airway through his nose the first time, administer the suction catheters, start pulling the water and fluid out of his lungs… next thing you knew he was gonna make it.”

Hildreth said Leonard was following Lege’s instructions, working to save Thibeaux. “Her hands were nothing but a blur, and everything that Brandi needed, Mirranda provided,” he said.

Within 10 minutes Thibeaux was on his way to Franklin Foundation Hospital where Hildreth said he “received the best care that anyone could give. He couldn’t have gotten better care at the Mayo Clinic. We didn’t think he was going to make it. A lot of times they don’t make the first day.”

But Thibeaux had been moved out of intensive care back into his room by the next day.

The city council passed a proclamation by Mayor Raymond Harris commending those involved for their actions.

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