BAXTER -- If it wasn't for Brainerd postal carrier Greg Tarvas, Brainerd resident Stephen Long could have died of hypothermia on a cold February day.
Long, 69, said Tarvas saved his life after he broke his femur in front of his home while shoveling snow.
Long expressed his gratitude to Tarvas during a short presentation Tuesday at the Brainerd Post Office annex building in Baxter's Industrial Park. Jody Johnson, supervisor of customer services for the Brainerd Post Office, gave Tarvas an appreciation award and thanked him for his actions.
"You make the whole Postal Service proud," she said.
Tarvas said, "I did what anyone would have done."
The incident occurred Feb. 24. Long was shoveling snow off the sidewalk and slipped on ice underneath the snow.
"I fell on my right side and broke my femur," he said. "I foolishly dragged myself to the door of the house and when I got to the door I couldn't get up. I was hidden in between the snowbanks and a fence.
"I was in such pain."
Long said about two minutes later Tarvas came by to drop off his mail. Long gave Tarvas the keys to his house and asked him to call 911.
Tarvas, who has been a Brainerd mail carrier since 1995, said when he was walking toward Long's home he thought Long was working on his front door. Tarvas said Long was leaning on his shoulders and it looked like he was waving at him.
When Tarvas realized what had happened, he didn't hesitate to help Long.
"I didn't panic," said Tarvas, "probably because he (Long) was so calm, so I thought it was no big deal."
Tarvas called 911 and the ambulance arrived within minutes. Long said those few minutes seemed to take forever.
"If he (Tarvas) hadn't come I would have been there for hours or even all day and night," said Long. "I could have died of hypothermia. It was cold out."
Long was home alone and said his neighbors would not have been able to see or hear him to help. Long had surgery and a blood transfusion. He broke his right femur in four different spots.
Long called the Brainerd Post Office to get the carrier's name so he could send a thank-you note. When Postmaster Warren McQuay found out what happened, he and Long wanted to do something special for Tarvas to recognize his heroic efforts.
McQuay said it did not surprise him that Tarvas did not tell anyone about the incident. Tarvas is a calm and quiet person who likes his job and does it well, said McQuay.
McQuay said incidents like this are not common, but they do happen. He said most carriers know their routes and if a person is not getting their mail each day there could be something wrong.
Tarvas said he is appreciative of Long's kindness in wanting to honor him, but he would have preferred not to have the attention.
"If it was my day off you'd be talking to another carrier right now," said Tarvas. "The Postal Service can provide this type of help because we are at people's homes every day."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.