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Random Acts of Kindness: Local firefighter recognized for lifesaving actions

After Nicole’s quick thinking saved the life of a young runner, his mom nominated her for a BradfordToday Random Act of Kindness

Nicole Higgins, a firefighter with Bradford West Gwillimbury Fire and Emergency Services, was surprised with a Random Act of Kindness from the BradfordToday team. 

The surprise came after she was nominated by Debbie Gust, a grateful mother whose son's life was saved by Nicole's quick and heroic actions earlier this year.

On that fateful Saturday morning of May 6th, Nicole, who was off-duty and cheering on her husband in the Spring Fling Marathon in Pefferlaw, found herself at the centre of a life-and-death situation. 

Austin, Debbie’s 22-year-old son and a fellow runner in the marathon, suddenly collapsed and went into cardiac arrest just metres from the finish line.

Debbie, in her heartfelt nomination, described the traumatic experience and Nicole's immediate response. Nicole, along with another off-duty firefighter, performed CPR for nearly 10 minutes until the defibrillator arrived, followed by an ambulance. 

Within an hour and a half of arriving at the Emergency Department, Austin was fist-bumping the Emergency Department doctors and saying he was okay. One nurse described his recovery as a “miracle”.

Nicole and her colleague played a crucial role in saving Austin's life, turning what could have been a tragic incident into a miraculous story of survival.

In recognition of Nicole’s selfless actions, BradfordToday surprised her at her workplace with a gift certificate from Bradford Wellness Centre and a beautiful bouquet of flowers from The Flower Merchant. 

The BradfordToday team also added a sweet touch to the celebration by bringing cupcakes from Sweet B’s for the entire team to share.

Nicole shared her feelings about the unexpected recognition, emphasizing the importance of kindness and how a small gesture can have a profound impact on someone's day. 

“Working at the fire department, you rarely get to see the outcome of your actions,” Nicole explained. “To see this story come full circle and be recognized for something as simple as kindness was so humbling.”

The bond between Nicole and Debbie has grown into a lifelong connection and Nicole expressed her joy in learning about Austin becoming a spokesperson for Automated External Defibrillators - the device that saved his life.

Sharing her thoughts on kindness, Nicole said, “Through the noise going on in society, through our busy lives, always remember to be kind. You never know how that kindness will affect someone - you could flip the script on their day!”

Thank you to our generous co-sponsors, Bradford Wellness Centre and The Flower Merchant, for helping to make this Random Act of Kindness possible.

If you know someone in the community who deserves recognition for their selfless actions, positivity in the face of hardship, or just for being a great person, you can nominate them for a Random Act of Kindness. Fill out our nomination form today!

If you would like to support our Random Acts of Kindness program, please email [email protected].

BradfordToday is proud to make a difference in our community by highlighting extraordinary individuals and organizations with our Random Acts of Kindness, a foundational piece of our BradfordToday Cares program. 

The BradfordToday Cares team's mission is to create meaningful change in Bradford - and inspire others to do the same.