The Boy Scouts of America motto is “Be Prepared,” and a local 13-year-old took those words to heart, ultimately earning a prestigious Scouting award.
In a Court of Honor meeting at Heber Olsen Park on Thursday, Porter Sealy, of River Heights, was awarded the Medal of Merit for Lifesaving and Meritorious Action after he demonstrated exemplary first aid skills which potentially saved his brother’s life on May 15.
“I didn’t expect it,” Porter said. “It’s sort of a big surprise to me, and I just didn’t realize how important it was. … All I really cared about was helping him.”
Porter and his five siblings went for a hike on the trail behind their house to celebrate Evvy’s birthday. They had a blanket, a picnic basket and settled in at a treehouse when Skylar, 10, fell out of the tree and gouged his leg on a stick.
“At first he was yelling, ‘I need a Band-Aid, I need a Band-Aid,’” Porter recalled. “But he needed more than Band-Aid. Definitely more than a Band-Aid.”
Mia, Skylar’s twin, referred to the gory gash as “PG-13,” but Porter used the skills he learned in Scouts to apply first aid on his brother’s leg. After bandaging the 6-inch gash, Porter went to retrieve the picnic blanket and several sticks to use as a makeshift stretcher, like they’d been taught in Scouts, but a rattlesnake had moved in between them and the blanket.
Instead they carried his brother one mile without the stretcher, back to the trailhead where their oldest sister, Annaka, finally had cell service to call their mom for help.
Porter’s mother, Jeanell, was also surprised about the reaction but is proud of the family’s “ever-prepared Scout.”
“I tell people that he should have been born 100 years ago,” she said. “He would have been a perfect mountain man. He loves being up in the woods. He loves all things survival, all things nature. That’s just who he is.”
All the while, Porter made sure his brother was calm and gave him some children’s painkillers from the first aid pack he carried until they could get him to the hospital, where Skylar received 37 stitches.
Pualani Graham, the local council advancement chair of the BSA, said Porter had truly earned his first aid merit badge, and if anything happens to her, she hopes Porter will be by her side.
“Sometimes, when something happens to someone that you love, you tend to panic, or you tend to not to think about what you should do,” she said at the ceremony. “But (Porter) didn’t do that. (He) remained calm in the situation.”
Perkins said Porter was among one of the first recipients of the award he’s seen in years.
“I think last year, in 2019, there were like 20,000, 25,000, Eagle Scouts (awards),” he said, “but I think there were only less than 100 Medals of Merit awards across the United States. It’s a rare reward.”
The award is typically given by a local council to Scouts who have performed some act of service above and beyond what’s normally expected of a member, according to the U.S. Scouting Service Project. The website said the act may involve a lifesaving effort, but is not confined to lifesaving and may also be awarded for any meritorious action using some aspect of Scouting skills or learning — such as Porter’s use of first aid and quick thinking to get his brother and siblings to safety.
Allan Endicott, the Scout executive of the newly established Crossroads of the West Council in Salt Lake City, said he was honored to present the award.
“This young man did something that’s really important,” he said. “He took care of somebody, and we think it’s important to recognize youth who make a difference. And this is a big difference.”