By Chris Morgan, AT&T Insider Staff Writer

Last winter, during a rare and unexpected Southern snowstorm, AT&T employee Lyle Hayslip jumped into his all-terrain vehicle and rescued more than 100 stranded people – many without winter clothing.

The historic AT&T Vail Award, established in 1920, honors employees demonstrating the “highest degree of judgment, initiative, resourcefulness and courage.”

And in St. Louis last fall, AT&T employee Tim Porter jumped up from his restaurant table when he heard a cry for help. He performed lifesaving procedures on a fellow diner.

Both AT&T employees were recently awarded the Vail Certificate of Citation for heroism. Here are their stories:

A zombie apocalypse

One day last January, Lyle was working in his home office in Birmingham, Alabama, oblivious to the mounting snow and ice outside. He wasn’t the only one who didn’t see this storm coming.

“The weathermen missed it, in a big, big way. We were truly hammered,” said Lyle, principal, technical project management.

When the city’s entire population headed home simultaneously from work or school a couple of hours later, a massive traffic jam ensued. Lyle’s neighbor, who was out of town, texted Lyle. He was concerned about his wife, mired in traffic.

Lyle volunteered to help her. He changed into thermal gear and headed out on the all-terrain vehicle he normally used for deer hunting.

Once outside, Lyle was stunned. “It was like a zombie apocalypse. The cars were in a jumble – just crisscrossing everywhere. People were leaving their cars in the middle of the interstate and just shuffling along. A lot of people were in blue blazers or dresses and high heels,” Lyle said.

When Lyle found his neighbor and delivered her to her home, he discovered a lot of other people in need. He checked in with his boss, Michael Anderson, area manager, technical project management. Michael was supportive of Lyle’s rescue service – so Lyle headed back out.

Using his ATV, Lyle was able to travel on lawns, sidewalks and between other vehicles. “It was the only way to get around,” he said. “It was just pandemonium. At one point, I had three ladies hanging on the back.”

On the day of the storm, Lyle rescued his last passenger at 11:45 p.m. The temperature had dropped to the teens. That man “was wearing a light jacket and carrying a briefcase. He had been trying to get home for 10 hours,” Lyle said. “He was really happy to see me.”

Lyle, a 25-year veteran of AT&T, continued his rescue work the next day. In all, he helped more than 100 people, including firefighters.

“Our neighbors aren’t starving. Everyone is doing pretty good around here. It’s not often that there is the opportunity to help our neighbors like that. It was very rewarding,” Lyle said.

But he knows he may not be needed to this extreme again. “I think you’ll find a lot of emergency kits in cars now,” he said.

Unresponsive and not breathing

One day last fall, Tim Porter, a network services manager in the St. Louis area, was in the middle of a Ride Day with technician John Kasten. After Tim observed John’s repair-and-installation abilities, the two settled in for a late lunch.

That’s when they heard a cry for help.

“So I walked over that way,” Tim said. “And there was an elderly man lying on the ground and he did not look good. He was not responsive to anything. He was not breathing. And he had a really, really shallow, thready pulse.”

The man, who was in his 80s, had apparently choked on a bite of food.

“I brought the man to a sitting position and attempted to perform the Heimlich maneuver, but his body was rigid. It didn’t work,” Tim said.

John asked a waitress to call 911. He helped calm the victim’s friend and called the family. Meanwhile, Tim began performing CPR – and kept it up until the paramedics arrived.

Mickie Schrum, manager of Bandana’s BBQ Restaurant, said Tim’s help saved her customer’s life. “If it wasn’t for Tim being there, I don’t think there is any way the man would have survived. It’s a miracle that he was in the right place at the right time. He was a guardian angel for this man,” she said.

“While everyone else panicked and froze,” John said, “Mr. Porter put his training into action. He showed me in those moments what a leader should be.”

Tim, an AT&T employee since 2008, is a former Army medic. He said he often stops to help people in trouble in restaurants, playgrounds and highways. He sees it like this: “I just really feel if you have the ability to do something that can literally affect the outcome of someone’s life, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Learn more about other AT&T awards and recognition, like the Vail Award, click here.