Local off-duty firefighter helps save a life while on vacation at Disneyland

Ben Porter promotes importance of CPR training

A Camas-Washougal firefighter was recently one of several individuals who helped save a man’s life near Disneyland.

Ben Porter, 23, was on vacation with his wife and several of her family members when the incident occurred Aug. 18, around 2:30 p.m., at “Downtown Disney” — a shopping area outside the theme park on the way to the Disneyland Hotel.

Porter said he and his wife were returning to the hotel after lunch, because he had a headache and needed a nap. He noticed a man who appeared to be convulsing being lowered to the ground by a police officer and another individual.

Porter, who is also an EMT and IV technician, began cardiopulmonary resuscitation when he realized the man was not breathing and had no pulse, and the officer called for assistance. While Porter was doing compressions, a Disneyland nurse arrived with medical kits and an automated external defibrillator.

The officer took over CPR, and Porter hooked up the AED.

“An off-duty paramedic — I’m not sure where he is from — showed up and took over compressions,” Porter said. “We delivered one shock and continued CPR for a couple more minutes. The AED analyzed again, and no shock was advised. By that time, the man had a pulse of his own and the fire department and ambulance were arriving.

“All I did was recognize the need for CPR and initiated it,” he added. “There was plenty of help that showed up within the first couple of minutes, and the man is alive because of everyone who helped out — including the entire EMS system.”

After the incident, Porter and his wife continued to the hotel to rest for a while. They left the next day.

“The man’s family has not contacted me,” Porter said. “I was not asked to give any of my information by anyone, so I continued about my business.”

The patient had a complete recovery and was discharged from the hospital 24 hours after he was transported there.

“I’ve assisted with minor problems in the past but nothing to this magnitude while off duty,” Porter said. “This was the first critical medical patient I have run into while off duty.

“Anyone who knows how to do CPR could have done exactly what I did,” he added. “This event made me realize even more the importance of everyday people knowing how to do CPR, in order to provide individuals who suffer from incidents like this with the best possible outcome they could have. Each minute that goes by without CPR causes irreversible tissue damage. This man is not alive because I am a firefighter, but because I knew CPR, recognized the need for it and was willing to provide it.”

Cliff Free, division chief of EMS for the C-W Fire Department, is proud of Porter.

“This is a perfect testament to who he is as a person,” Free said. “And who he is as a person spills over into his work, his play and his commitment to whatever community he finds himself in.”

Porter is a former firefighter with East County Fire & Rescue and Clark County Fire District 6.

ECFR Chief Scott Koehler said Porter is “a great person.”

“It is no surprise that he helped this man,” Koehler said. “He has committed himself to a profession of helping others — often on their worst day. Ben’s dedication to humanity was evident that day, and his training certainly paid off.”

For information about CPR classes, contact the C-W Fire Department at 834-2262 or 835-2611 or ECFR at 834-4908.