TRUMAN - Justin Bosshart is a hero, but he doesn't feel he deserves the title. He saved a man's life, but thinks that's just what you do when you're a firefighter like he is.
The Truman native recently received a meritorious citizenship award from the Minnesota State Patrol for his actions following a semi accident west of the Twin Cities about a year ago. Since 1998, the award has been given annually each spring to citizens who have been nominated by troopers and selected by an awards committee. Bosshart was one of six people to receive the honor this year.
"I was on my way home from work," recalled Bosshart, who lives in St. Bonifacius. He drove around a curve, came up on a stoplight and saw a jackknifed semi.
"Instantly, my fire department training kicked in," he said.
Bystanders told him it looked like the driver was trying to pull over and jackknifed. Three men already had pulled the driver from the rig.
"The driver was not responsive," Bosshart said.
Like Bosshart, a woman at the scene was trained in lifesaving techniques.
"We just started doing CPR until the ambulance and local fire department showed up," he said.
All five received the award from the State Patrol.
Bosshart found out later that the driver, 57-year-old Marvin Hayes from Chaska, had suffered a heart attack.
"He lived," Bosshart said. "About a month after the accident, I got a letter thanking me for helping out."
Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the incident, and Marvin Hayes was in good spirits and eager to praise those who saved his life.
"I'm grateful these people are getting acknowledgement," he said.
There's "not much" he remembers about the incident. A "very light-headed feeling" provided the only warning that was "two seconds - tops," he said. "Two days later, I woke up in the hospital."
Hayes' doctor told him his heart had stopped, but he'd been revived at the scene. His heart stopped a second time during the ambulance ride to the hospital, and again he was revived.
His heart had experienced an "electrical short," a situation that occurs in 10 percent of people over 55 years of age.
Hayes said he never had a prior coronary issue.
He was hospitalized six days and had a defibrillator implanted.
"It hasn't gone off since," he said. "I've been feeling quite well."
He no longer drives a truck for his employer, but he continues to work.
He is thankful that people like Bosshart were at the right place at the right time with the right knowledge to save his life.
Bosshart has been a member of the St. Bonifacius Fire Department for four years, and he credits their training regimen for his response at the accident scene.
"We have training twice a month. Basically once a week, we have something - normal first responder training, normal fire department training," he said.
The reaction from his colleagues in the 30-member squad?
"I didn't talk about it too much," he said with a shrug.
His fiancee, Sarah Menthe, supported his statement, saying he casually mentioned the incident when he got home.
"It's an everyday thing for you, but it's a big deal to everybody else," she told him.