Anthony Whisnant has saved lives before.
Whisnant, a former Army National Guard medic, also worked for years as an emergency medical technician in Gaston County. So when his neighbor stumbled onto his porch with a bullet wound in her chest, Whisnant knew what to do.
"I've done it before, hundreds if not thousands of times," he said.
Whisnant woke up around 7:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning to the sound of his neighbors arguing.
""I turned on my cameras because I heard a commotion to see what was going on, to see if it was around my property. It sounded really close," he said. "I heard them arguing, and she started carrying out her Thanksgiving meal."
The woman put food in her car, returned to the house, came back out, and loaded more food in her car, Whisnant said.
"She was on the porch, and she threw something against the door," he said.
Whisnant by then had laid back down. Then he heard his neighbors yelling again.
"He basically steps on the porch, shoots her, hit her basically right here in the chest," Whisnant said, gesturing to the right side of his chest.
Whisnant got his gun, and the woman walked over to Whisnant's property and collapsed in front of his front door.
"She was basically saying, 'hold my hand,' talking about her babies and stuff like that," he said.
Whisnant put his hand over the wound on the woman's chest and called 911.
"I had a gun in one hand, phone over here on speaker, my hand on the lady's chest," he said.
Minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took the woman away. After that, Whisnant spent hours talking to police about what had happened. The woman's boyfriend, Robert Lamar Adams, had left the property after the shooting. Police responding to Whisnant's 911 call spotted Adams walking in the neighborhood, "just kind of casually walking down the street," said police spokesman Rick Goodale.
Adams had ditched his gun, and police did not yet have a suspect description. The officers continued on to Whisnant's home, but after they spoke to the woman who was shot, they found Adams walking in the neighborhood, "so he hadn't gotten too far."
Whisnant said that he spoke to his neighbor yesterday.
"She's very grateful," he said. "She's recovering now."
Whisnant didn't have a Thanksgiving meal that day.
"It was crazy," he said. "The next day we cooked."
Whisnant worked as an emergency medical technician from 1991-2001, but he said he left the profession after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He now works for Rocky's Tree Service. Still, he said that when he saw his neighbor on his porch, his response was automatic.
"It's part of the training and stuff, just natural," he said.
He said while others have told him they would not have come out of their house, he didn't consider abandoning the woman.
"It's not even a question," he said.
Gastonia police credited Whisnant for keeping the woman alive until paramedics arrived.
"Without Whisnant's quick thinking and immediate first aid action, we don't know if our victim would have been able to survive her injuries," Goodale said. Adams, 47, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. He is being held without bond.
Kara Fohner can be reached at 704-869-1850 or email her at KFohner@Gannett.com.
This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Retired medic saves neighbor's life on Thanksgiving morning