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Alabama firefighter saves veteran’s life after being asked for directions

CAVHCS Fire Chief Larry Foy, Dr. David M. Walker, Network Director VA Southeast Network and...
CAVHCS Fire Chief Larry Foy, Dr. David M. Walker, Network Director VA Southeast Network and Capt. Robert Smith, CAVHCS Firefighter, pictured here after a ceremony, which recognized Smith for his life-saving actions.(Source: Shelia Austin, CAVHCS Public Affairs Officer)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 3:28 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A firefighter with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, or CAVHCS, is being credited with saving a man’s life after being asked for directions along the interstate.

Capt. Robert Smith had pulled over to the side of the road to connect his vehicle’s Bluetooth when he noticed an older man pull up behind him. The man, who identified himself as Walter J. Simmons, needed directions and Smith, noticing his printed map, offered to give him better directions.

After getting the updated directions, Simmons, a Navy veteran, agreed to share his phone number with the firefighter so he could make sure he didn’t get lost.

As the veteran began to pull away, Smith said he felt something wasn’t right. He noticed the man didn’t get back on the road safely and multiple vehicles had to swerve to avoid crashing. More importantly, it didn’t appear that Simmons was even aware of what happened.

The firefighter jumped back on the road and motioned for Simmons to pull over.

“I discovered that something just wasn’t right at the moment, so I asked him if he was feeling okay,” Smith explained, then asked the man if there was anyone he could call. He was quickly on the phone with Simmons’s daughter, Diane Brown.

“Captain Smith felt like my father was experiencing some sort of medical problem which was interfering with his ability to drive,” Brown said.

After the conversation with the daughter, her father agreed to ride with the firefighter to the Montgomery VA hospital. It’s a decision the veteran’s daughter says probably saved not only his life but others. Brown added that doctors discovered some serious medical conditions.

“I feel great about possibly saving someone’s life,” Smith later said. “I think that’s what we are supposed to do as firefighters. We are public servants.

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