KALAMAZOO, Michigan — Catching a child who was dropped from a burning building was just Phillip Blanks doing his job.
The former U.S. Marine and ex-football player at Kalamazoo Central High School doesn’t want special recognition for helping save a 3-year-old boy from an apartment fire in Phoenix, Arizona. Blanks, a body guard today, said protecting others is just part of his job.
Blanks credits his training as a Marine and security officer and instincts for his reaction.
“Ultimately, this is my job,” Blanks said. “It was all fast; it was a blur. It was tunnel vision as I was running. I didn’t see anything but the baby.”
Blanks, 28, caught the young boy who was dropped from an apartment balcony July 3.
According to ABC15 in Arizona, the boy and an 8-year-old girl were both taken to the hospital with injuries. The children’s mother died in the fire, ABC15 said.
Blanks was captured on video helping to save the boy’s life.
The video was shared by WWMT’s Andy Pepper.
The Kalamazoo native served four years in the military after completing one year at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Blanks said in an interview with MLive. Prior to college, he played four years as a wide receiver and linebacker at Kalamazoo Central.
He moved to Arizona about a year ago and currently works in executive protection, or as a body guard, he said. He was at a friend’s apartment for a workout that morning when he heard people yelling outside and he jumped into action, Blanks said.
“I wasn’t able to grab my shoes,” he said. “I ran down the stairs barefoot.”
Then, he started looking to see who needed help.
“As I was running, I see the baby getting ready to be tossed out of the patio,” Blanks said. “Next thing you know, he’s helicoptering in the air and I catch him.”
Blanks said the child’s foot was injured in the fall but that his head and major organs were protected.
“His skin was melting off of his body,” Blanks said. “He was bleeding.”
Blanks said he’s currently searching area hospitals for the children to try and offer any help he can.
“I would honestly like to be involved in the kids’ lives,” Blanks said, “because I know they had a traumatic experience and I know that their lives have changed forever.”
Blanks said he isn’t looking for attention and hopes he can help the children affected by the fire.
“In this situation, if I could use this platform to get these kids some help, that’d be great,” he said. “I don’t need any. I don’t want any help or too much recognition for this. I just feel like I was doing my job.”
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