“They might need to come up with a different name now,” said Brown, flashing a friendly smile.
On a recent Friday, an “average day” for the 48-year-old Greer mailman quickly turned into a life or death situation, and forged a bond between Brown and a little boy whom he’d never met.
Brown had just popped the mail into the mailbox at Stephanie and John Cooper’s quaint two-story home when he noticed he’d forgotten a package he’d overlooked. He stopped, picked it up and began walking it to the front door, thanking his luck that he’d noticed it before getting to far away.
When he was about halfway there, Stephanie Cooper burst outside, her baby son in her arms, yelling.
“The mom ran out frantically screaming help me help me, my baby’s not breathing, my baby’s not breathing!” Brown recalled the moment. “Before I knew it she was handing me the baby.”
Brown leapt into action, performing the Heimlich maneuver and dislodging a piece of plastic wrap that had been lodged in Eli’s throat.
“It’s been quite the week,” Brown said, taking a break from his postal route to chat.
Brown is still in shock about what happened. When he thinks about it, the father of three said the experience still seems a bit like a dream. In a way, it was just reflexive, and he added, “there was no one else.”
Brown has had many experiences in his life. He’s served in the military, he is a Jan-Pro franchisee, and runs the professional cleaning service in the evenings, and he is a 24-year veteran with the U.S. Postal Service. He has done his day job delivering mail for the past 24 years. But never in his life, Brown said, has he been faced with a life or death situation.
“I’ve heard of (postal workers) saving folks out of a burning home or calling 911, but as far as our post office I haven’t heard of that,” Brown said.
Brown grew up in New York, and began working for the U.S. Postal Service up there. But he transferred to Greer in 1993.
Friday was a beautiful sunny day, relatively normal day, but with one distinct difference – the neighborhood, usually bustling with people, was notably empty. Thus there was no one to help Cooper when she realized Eli had swallowed a small piece of plastic that had become lodged in his throat.
When Cooper saw Brown, she thrust her baby into his arms, pleading with him to help.
Brown moved into action. He swiftly performed the Heimlich maneuver, pressing five times before getting a response. As the child lay limp in his arms, Brown tried one more push. The last one got Eli to vomit, emitting the small piece of plastic that had been the source of all the distress from his throat.
The little boy began crying, and Brown knew he was going to be okay.
Brown’s heroics didn’t surprise Robert Burns at all. The COO of Jan-Pro of the Western Carolinas has known Brown for six years and said his business partner was just acting as he always does.
“I didn’t know anything about it until Monday,” Burns said. “No, he’d be the guy that’s telling you I’m not a hero. I just did what the training said to do. I did what anybody’d do.”
Indeed Brown shirks the title of hero. He said it was just fortunate that he was there at the moment when the Coopers needed help, and he is thankful he was able to.
“I don’t really feel like a hero. I look at policemen, military men, firefighters, nurses as heroes,” Brown said. “It was just something I did.”