Unsung Hero: He saved a boy who hit his head on concrete steps while playing football

Evan Eifling (courtesy of the Eifling family)

This is Unsung Heroes, a Bryan on Scouting blog series celebrating under-reported acts of Scouting heroism. These are stories that don’t make national headlines — but should. That’s doubly true in this world that can always use more good news. Read the latest story below, and find instructions for sharing your own Unsung Heroes story at the end of the post.


Scout skills, like the kind acquired at summer camp, can help young people earn merit badges, meet interesting people and try something new.

And sometimes, if the circumstances require, they can even help these Scouts save a life.

In October 2016, Evan Eifling was playing football with friends at his middle school. The field, which was muddy from rain earlier in the day, was flanked on one side by a row of large concrete steps.

The quarterback passed the ball in the direction of those steps but overthrew his intended receiver, a 12-year-old named Jacob Nolen. Jacob ran after the errant pass, slipped in the mud and cracked his head on the sharp edge of one of the steps.

“I ran up to him and saw that he wasn’t exactly awake,” Evan says. “I assumed he had a concussion. He was bleeding very heavily from a cut above his eyebrow.”

Evan, now 17 and a Star Scout in Troop 30 of Little Rock, Ark. (Quapaw Area Council), was a 12-year-old Scout at the time of the incident. When his dad asked him later where he learned the first-aid skills that likely saved Jacob’s life, Evan’s reply was simple: “Scout camp.”

The unhesitating hero

Jacob’s memory of the day is fragmented. He remembers playing football. He remembers slipping in mud when trying to make a difficult catch.

“I then blacked out,” he says. “I remember little bits of what happened. I remember Evan held my head and was talking to me.”

Evan very calmly sat down at Jacob’s head, pulled the sleeve of his hoodie over his hand, and applied direct pressure to the wound, slowing the bleeding significantly.

“After that, I noticed he was coming to consciousness, so I was asking him questions and trying to keep him engaged,” Evan says.

The wound to Jacob’s forehead was about an inch and a half wide and deep enough to see the skull beneath.

“There were some adults there,” says Evan’s dad, David Eifling. “They were all too squeamish to assist.”

Evan continued talking to Jacob until the paramedics arrived in an ambulance.

Jacob Nolen today (courtesy of Casey Farrell)

The grateful mom

Jacob’s mom, Casey Farrell, was at home preparing for her family’s big move to St. Louis the next day.

She was cleaning the house when her son’s school called with the news.

“They told me Jake had an accident, but they wouldn’t explain,” she says. “I got to the school, and the paramedics had him in a neck brace lying on a muddy field. He had blood all over his head with a gash in his forehead.”

Casey’s son was alert enough to say hi, which brought her some relief as she followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Jacob needed stitches but would eventually make a full recovery. He called Evan every few days after he moved to St. Louis to update him on his recovery and reiterate his appreciation.

Five years later, Jacob is doing fine and living in St. Louis with his mom, who says she feels extremely grateful to Evan for his bravery.

“That’s a scary thing to witness,” she says. “Thank you for being there for someone when they needed you.”

Jacob extends his gratitude to the entire Scouting movement, which he says “helps make outstanding young men and women.”

Evan around the time of the incident. (courtesy of the Eifling family)

The lessons learned

David learned of his son’s actions not from Evan himself but from Evan’s principal at Pulaski Heights Middle School, Darryl Powell.

“He was the one who called me and told me about it,” David says.

Mr. Powell presented Evan with a special award at his school’s assembly. But Evan didn’t do this for an award. He did it because that’s simply what Scouts do.

“Scouting helped me in the situation to think calmly and efficiently and apply the first aid I was taught,” he says. “The world needs Scouting so that more people have the opportunity to save a life rather than be a bystander.”

Share your Unsung Heroes story

Stories like these brighten my day — especially because I know this kind of thing happens regularly in Scouting.

Here’s how to share the news of an Unsung Hero in your pack, troop or crew:

  1. Send an email to me with the subject line “Unsung Heroes.”
  2. Include a detailed summary of the heroic act.
  3. Include any “supporting documentation” you can. Examples include links to a story in your local newspaper, paperwork for a Scouting heroism award nomination or eyewitness accounts.
  4. Include high-res photos of the Unsung Hero.
About Bryan Wendell 3181 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.