Somewhere in Colorado, there’s a merit badge counselor who can smile with pride.
When he was a Scout in Colorado, Derrick Goold earned the Emergency Preparedness merit badge while attending summer camp at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch in the BSA’s Longs Peak Council.
“I learned the importance of reacting calmly, with purpose, and assuredly,” Goold says. “I remember something that one of the counselors said that day: ‘If you’re looking around for someone to act in a moment of need and don’t see anyone, then you’re the person you’re looking for.'”
Some three decades later, Goold was that person.
Goold, an Eagle Scout and award-winning baseball writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was preparing for postgame interviews in the dugout after a St. Louis Cardinals game when he saw videographer Mike Flanary collapse in front of him.
Someone said, “Does somebody know CPR?”
Goold said he did. He then got to work performing chest compressions that doctors say saved Flanary’s life.
Dr. David Tan, the medic on duty that day at Busch Stadium, told the Post-Dispatch that, “so many people are afraid of doing CPR. But, because of [Goold’s] actions, he was the first link in that chain of survival.”
Flanary, who was later diagnosed with an arterial blockage, survived the ordeal. He was scheduled to have a bypass operation earlier this week.
Out of respect for Flanary, Goold wanted to make sure that his fellow journalist had recovered before agreeing to talk about that day. That’s just the kind of guy Goold is.
Now that Flanary’s condition is better known, Goold shares with Bryan on Scouting readers. He offers insight into his time as a Scout and how it prepared him for life.
“Scouting tapped a well that I have been able to draw on for the rest of my life,” he says.
Confidence built in Scouting
Goold joined Cub Scouts shortly after his family moved to Colorado. He was a Scout from then until he left for college and says his time as a Scout in Troop 69 of Louisville, Colo., was especially transformative.
You see, Goold was “a thin, nerdy, young-for-my-class kid.”
Even though he dressed the part of a Scout, he wasn’t sure he could do “Scouting things.” Could he really backpack 100 miles through the mountains? Ice climb up frozen waterfalls? Find his way through the woods with just a compass? Tie a sheepshank?
“And yet Scouting equipped me with the knowledge, the tools, and the confidence that I could — that I could figure it out, or find a way, or overcome an obstacle,” Goold says. “Within the framework of Scouting, I learned the importance of teamwork, of delegation, of pushing yourself, of not being a bystander.”
Goold says he found his voice as a person in high school. He found his voice as a writer and journalist in college at the University of Missouri.
“But my fiber — the canvas those things hang on — came from my parents, my grandparents, and so many of the experiences I had in Scouting,” he says.
A mountain of memories
Like many Scouts, Goold can’t pick a single favorite memory from his time in the program. Because he has several.
He took two treks at Philmont, including one with his dad. He dug himself out of his own tent after it collapsed under the weight of an overnight blizzard. And he paddled through the Boundary Waters and played pinecone baseball, “carving a bat out of a stick I found along the way.”
For his Eagle project, Goold designed mobile classrooms for a church in Louisville. These wooden carts stored everything a Sunday school teacher could need for class. And because the carts had wheels, the classrooms could be moved from room to room as needed.
“The entire project included designing the carts, building them and also gathering the funding for them,” he says.
A Sunday in September
And that brings us to Sept. 29 — the final day of the 2019 baseball regular season. The St. Louis Cardinals needed a win against the Chicago Cubs to clinch the division title, and Goold was at the ballpark to report on the action.
The Cardinals won, 9-0, but another story was breaking that day. Before the game, the Cubs announced that their manager, Joe Maddon, would not return for the 2020 season. It turned out that this announcement might have saved Flanary’s life.
Flanary, a freelance videographer, says he wouldn’t have been at the ballpark that day if the Maddon story wasn’t developing. He would’ve been camping with his wife and “there is no way we would have been close enough” to receive lifesaving treatment, he tells the Post-Dispatch.
Goold’s job is to cover the Cardinals, so he wouldn’t have been in the Cubs dugout either if the Maddon news hadn’t drawn his attention.
Before the dugout news conference began, Flanary turned to another reporter and said, “hey, I’m not feeling … .” Then he collapsed, and Goold stepped in.
Goold hadn’t been certified in CPR since he was a student lifeguard at Mizzou, but he’s kept up with recent changes to CPR training, including an option for hands-only CPR.
At airports, he’s stopped to check out the CPR kiosks that train travelers in the technique. The rest, Goold says, was muscle memory.
“I remembered my CPR training,” he says. “Scouts is good for learning how not to forget the things you’ve learned.”
Goold kept at it until the EMTs arrived and rushed Flanary to the hospital. In the weeks since, Goold has kept in touch with Flanary by text.
This winter, after Flanary’s surgery, “we’re going to go for lunch,” Goold says. “His pick. My treat.”
A sticker says it all
Goold left me with one more story I simply have to share.
Growing up, he remembers his mom refused to put any bumper stickers on her prized new car. But she was willing to make one exception.
She’d be willing to put the “I’m Proud of My Eagle Scout” sticker on there if Goold earned Scouting’s highest honor.
“She put the challenge out there,” Goold says. “When I received my Eagle Scout, I learned why.”
As a court of honor gift, Goold’s mom gave him a box containing an old Eagle Scout medal. The medal, Goold soon learned, belonged to his grandfather — his mom’s father.
Goold knew his paternal grandfather well. They played catch together and spent hours talking baseball. But his mom’s dad died before Goold was born.
“I only know him through the stories I’ve been told and some of the physical traits we both have,” Goold says. “And there I was holding something of his, something he earned, a connection we now had. I’m so humbled and moved to share that with him.”