HAMLET — It’s likely no one expected to get a lump in his throat at a City Council meeting whose agenda listed zoning amendments and budget adoption as top attractions.
But that was before former Hamlet and Rockingham police officer Robbie Taylor stood during the public comment section Tuesday evening to thank the rescue team he credited with saving his life last April.
“If you’ve never seen a miracle, this is one,” Taylor told council members, his breathing ragged and aided by a portable respirator he has used since receiving a surgically implanted mechanical pump to help his heart disperse oxygenated blood.
At 64, the once-active Taylor had become too weak to be considered a candidate for a heart transplant and suffered episodes in which he could not breathe. One such attack in mid-April left him aching and his wife, Vickie, calling Hamlet Fire and Rescue in a panic.
“I can’t breathe; I’m dying,” he remembered telling paramedic Franklin McKay, who — alongside emergency medical technician Stewart Neimyer — carried Taylor from his home to help.
“I know,” McKay told him. “I’m going to give you something.”
The next thing he knew, Taylor said, it was two days later and he was lying in a hospital bed in Charlotte.
McKay and Neimyer both received bear hugs and applause when they joined Taylor at the rostrum. They also received applause from the audience and from council members, three of whom are former law-enforcement colleagues of Taylor.
In less emotional action, council members:
• approved the city’s draft budget for 2018-19, which includes money for a refurbished basketball court in south Hamlet, more specialized equipment for firefighters and a new trash-and-limb truck,
• approved a new fee scheduled to help keep the city’s water-treatment and wastewater plants self-sufficient,
and agreed to allow City Manager Jonathan Blanton and Police Chief Scott Waters to determine the best surveillance camera system to monitor city events. The budget contains $24,000 for that purchase.
• approved the rezoning of a 37-acre tract on East Hamlet Avenue from “residential agricultural” to “light industrial,” which would allow the building of a solar farm on the site. The council will decide in July whether it wants to allow the solar farm.
Mayor Bill Bayless ended the open meeting on a sparkling note.
This year, he said, the police department will make sure nothing keeps the city from staging its July 4 fireworks display. Last year’s was canceled as a result of the threat of gang violence.
“We’re going to have the biggest (show) we’ve ever had” because it will include both last and this year’s fireworks, Bayless said.
“We’re likely to be down there two hours (celebrating).”
Former police officer Robbie Taylor greets EMT Stewart Niemyer, right, to thank him and paramedic Franklin McKay of Hamlet Fire and Rescue for taking good care of him after he suffered a breathing attack last April. In the background is Taylor’s son Robbie, left.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]