It was 3 a.m. in a condo in Costa Rica when Eric Nuevert shook his twin sons awake.
“Bryce! Bryant!” He repeated their names again and again.
The boys were expecting an early start to their trip to Panama that day. Instead, they found their dad on the floor with crippling chest pains. He was having a heart attack.
Bryce Nuevert and Bryant Nuevert, both 11, jumped into action. They saved their dad’s life with skills they learned in Boy Scouts.
In recognition of their efforts, the boys received a Heroism Award in March.
“We’re trained for these situations. But it’s very rare that you actually use it,” said Bryant Nuevert.
Bryce Nuevert remembers reading a section in Boy’s Life magazine called “What to do.” It listed several emergency situations and how to treat them, including cuts, broken bones, and shock, as well as how to perform CPR. The energetic boy thought it was a cool story, and practiced the skills with his brother. He never thought it would come in handy.
The boys were spending the two-week Christmas break in 2010 with their dad, who lives in Costa Rica for his job as a condo developer.
There were no working phones in the house when Eric Nuevert woke up with chest pains. His parents, Bonnie and Micheal Mack, were in the house, too, but were so shocked at the situation that they froze.
Bryant Nuevert grabbed blankets and began to treat his father for shock. Micheal Mack recently had heart surgery, and had a few nitroglycerin tablets left over. Bryant Nuevert tucked a tablet under his dad’s tongue and tried to keep it there.
Meanwhile, Bryce Nuevert bolted out of the house in his underwear to the nearby guard shack.
In halting Spanish, Bryce Nuevert asked the sleeping guard to come inside and help his dad.
“I said ‘Ayudar mi papi,’ which means, ‘Help my dad,” said Bryce Nuevert, convinced his dad might not make it.
They ran back inside. The guard called an ambulance. It took more than two hours to arrive, with only the driver inside.
What was going through their heads during all this?
“OK, we gotta help keep him alive until the ambulance comes, and then he’ll be okay,” recalled Bryant Nuevert. “But then the ambulance came and he still wasn’t okay, so we stayed with him.”
The twins accompanied Eric Nuevert to the local free care center. It was crowded and dirty, a far cry from the American hospitals Bryce and Bryant Nuevert were used to. Doctors said Eric Nuevert was fine and told him to leave. The next day, tests with his cardiologist revealed that Eric Nuevert had suffered a heart attack. He would be in the hospital for a week.
More than a year passed before the boys were honored for their efforts at a recognition dinner in Turlock. They each received a medal, a Heroism patch and a certificate.
Both boys are members of Pack 198 and plan to continue with Scouting, hoping to achieve the high rank of Eagle Scout at 13 years of age. They are in the fifth grade at Larson Elementary School. In their free time, they play baseball, practice taekwondo and are avid fans of the “Hunger Games” book series by Suzanne Collins.
Their mother, Debbie Nuevert, was impressed with her sons’ skills.
“They are resourceful, and they’ve been trained for it, but I wouldn’t have expected them to be able to coordinate all that and make it happen. That’s pretty skilled for a 10-year-old,” said their mother.
By Sara Jane Pohlman/News-Sentinel