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‘He gave him the chance to fight.’|TRM band director helps save life

By By Adam Robinson
sports editor

A longtime connection grew even stronger this month when Lance Gainous happened to take a different route to a familiar location — and ended up helping save the life of a stranger.
The T.R. Miller High School band director was on his way to Brewton Middle School on Feb. 5 — a trip he takes nearly every day to help assist middle school band director Luke Manning with his fifth-grade class.
What happened next is a series of steps Gainous believes were led by God.
Gainous almost didn’t make the trip; he had paperwork piling up on his desk. At the last-minute he decided to go anyway. But he took a different route, winding through different streets as he drove toward the middle school. The decision proved fateful.
At the moment Gainous was driving down the street, Jason McFadden was at his mother’s house, high on a ladder 20 feet in the air, cutting a tree limb with a chainsaw.
In the split second that he saw the fall, Gainous knew he had to act. His surroundings — a mail truck passing, the other houses — faded as he focused on the man who fell.
The shock continued as he quickly stopped, got out of the car and assessed the scene, but Gainous blocked out his own discomfort.
McFadden’s mother was on the phone with 911.
Gainous said he could not find a pulse, but McFadden’s face was crushed against the pavement. Gainous knew that if the man were to have a chance to live, it would not be facedown, with blood pooling around him.
Gainous then rolled him over, still seeing no breathing or movement, and gave him two breaths.
Gainous said he tried waving and asking the man to blink his eyes.
Gainous stayed with the man a couple of minutes and kept him calm, telling him the ambulance was coming. With the man’s mother in a panic, he spoke to emergency workers on the phone to give them the location of the accident.
Once police and paramedics arrived, Gainous helped flag them down. But he felt his work was done and did not want to get in the way.
As for what made him go that different route than his normal one?
The accident was the first time Gainous had ever been at such a scene.
After all the events Friday during lunch, Gainous still had three more hours of school to teach that day. He was shaken up, but told a few people about the incident and tried to focus on school. The incident remained with him through the weekend.
Solving the mystery revealed a connection Gainous never expected.
As Gainous was trying to find out who the man was, the man’s mother, Evelyn McFadden, was searching for Gainous. She described Gainous to her sister, Betty Ann Folsom, who used to live in Brewton.
Mr. and Mrs. Folsom — Betty Ann and Johnny — knew Gainous as a teenager in Cairo, Ga., where Johnny Folsom taught band at the high school Gainous attended.
Johnny Folsom is a former band director at T.R. Miller, but he left for Georgia in 1999.
Folsom’s first year at Cairo was Gainous’ senior year in high school. Eleven years later, Folsom helped Gainous get the job at T.R. Miller.
McFadden remained in the Critical Care Unit at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., Tuesday, his aunt Betty Ann Folsom said.
McFadden was stable but had a head injury and other internal injuries, but he had responded to nurses and family members, squeezing their hands when asked and passing other neurological tests.
McFadden is 37, and he and wife Charla have two children, Folsom said. He is the son of Glen and Evelyn McFadden of Brewton.
A fund for McFadden has been established at Escambia County Bank in Flomaton.
Gainous’ actions helped McFadden start breathing again, Folsom said.
Gainous said he has been told that moving McFadden may have actually saved his life, according to what a surgical technician at the hospital told family members.
While McFadden’s condition remains serious, Betty Ann Folsom said the family is grateful to Gainous for stopping to help.
Gainous said he had First Aid training before.
Gainous does not believe he is a hero in the situation.
Kerry Whipple Bean contributed to this story.
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