Students called heroes for saving man's life on train

November 7, 2012 (CHICAGO)

John Porter and Joel Villarreal are both seniors at Rickover Naval Academy on the North Side. They typically ride an hour on the train to get to school in the morning.

The school teaches them to be prepared and take action. They have both also taken lifeguard training, which came in handy a little more than a month ago on a Red Line train when they saw a man sweating and clutching his chest. Porter immediately helped get the man in what's called a modified Haines position, helping him breathe and prevent him from choking on bodily fluids. He also gave him aspirin.

"When you're having a heart attack they pretty much just egulate the blood flow," said Porter.

"I was actually panicking. I was a little scared," said Villarreal.

Villarreal called for help while Porter tried to help the man feel comfortable until paramedics arrived. He was still conscious, but unable to speak.

In their military school filled with junior ROTC students, they are taught honor, courage and commitment. Their quick action on the train earned them the JROTC's highest honor for meritorious achievement.

"That courage even in the face of maybe people making fun of you or second-guessing you, you should still do what you think is right," said Michael Biela, Rickover principal.

For their part, the humble students preferred not to talk about the incident. They say they were just doing what they were trained to do. And they reject the label of hero.

"I don't think of it like that. I think of it as just doing what I'm trained to do. This is very minor compared to guys in Afghanistan are doing," said Porter.

Porter plans to joins the Marines.

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