The Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board recognized the 2021 Lifesaving Award Recipients at its 70th annual Safety and Health Conference. Fifteen Lifesaving Award recipients were recognized as well as a Lifesaving Humanitarian Award recipient. Robyn Nance, 4 News Now morning host presented this year’s awards.
Andre Rayford and Justin Baker, Atkinson Construction
Andre Rayford, Justin Baker and Gene Brown were organizing road construction signs in a storage yard, preparing for the evening’s road closure. It was a hot day, so when Andre and Justin saw that Gene was sweating profusely and couldn’t catch his breath, they thought Gene was experiencing heat exhaustion. He took a break in an air-conditioned truck, drank a Powerade and ate a frozen Otter Pop, but Gene’s condition did not improve.
Justin checked Gene’s heart rate with an App on his phone. He compared Gene’s with his own and knew something was really off. Justin immediately took Gene to Tacoma General Hospital where medical staff determined he was suffering from a completely clogged artery.
An emergency angioplasty cleared the blockage and a stent was implanted to keep the artery open and blood flowing.
Two hours after Gene was rolled into the hospital, he called his co-workers to tell them he was feeling ‘a thousand times better’ and was able to watch the procedure as doctors performed it.
Doctors say Justin and Andre’s decision to immediately transport Gene to the hospital most likely saved his life.
Duane Kurtz, Avista
Duane Kurtz was at work when he looked up and noticed a man lying on the ground about 100-feet away. At the same time, Evan Magers was moving dirt in the substation and saw the man on the ground. He saw the all-terrain forklift next to the man and his heart sank. He thought the man had been run over by the forklift. The man was an employee of a contractor removing a transformer in the station. The man’s foreman was standing next to him holding a cell phone in his hand, but doing nothing. Evan asked him if he called 911 and when he answered no, Evan told him to call for help. The rest of Duane’s crew rushed in to help.
The man had vomited and was seizing. The foreman said the man had not fallen nor was he hit by the forklift. They were in the part of the substation what had no power, so Duane and Evan weren’t concerned about electrical shock.
They rolled the man onto his side to help clear his airway, but he instantly rolled onto his back, so they put Duane’s sweatshirt under the man’s head to protect it from injury during the seizure. They covered him with a blanket that a lineman brought them. Minutes later, an ambulance and the fire department showed up. The man was able to walk under his own power to the ambulance.
Evan said all the crewmembers on the site deserve recognition for putting their emergency training into action recognizing the injury, calling 911 and minimizing hazards like the running forklift near the man.
Adolfo Alvarez, Randy Carstens, Yolanda Figueroa, Martin Guzman, Angela Jurado, Levi Matteson, and Chadd Wilkes, SDS Lumber
Officer Ed Gunnyon, Bingen-White Salmon Police Dept.
A long-time employee had just returned from a break at the SDS Lumber plywood plant when he suffered a cardiac arrest. Dryer tender, Chadd Wilkes, saw the collapsed employee, immediately called for help and ran to his side. Supervisor Yolanda Figueroa, line tender Randy Carstens, Martin Guzman and Adolfo Alvarez joined Chadd to provide help.
No pulse was detected on the employee, so 911 was called and CPR began. After several minutes of CPR, Levi Matteson brought over the automated external defibrillator (AED) to and the employee was given two shocks to help jump start his heart. When emergency responders arrived about ten minutes following the 911 call, the employee’s heart was beating again. He was airlifted to a hospital in Portland where he recovered.
The morning after the incident, David West, the paramedic on the scene that night, called the main office saying the lifesaving efforts of the crew saved the man’s life.
Doug Cash, Tom Phillips, and Captain Gary Poole, Whatcom County Public Works
On the night of July 16, 2020, ferry Captain Gary Poole noticed a kayak off in the distance while he was transiting from the Gooseberry Point ferry terminal to the Lummi Island ferry terminal. Capt. Poole thought it was odd that a kayak would be that far off from shore and decided he would keep an eye on it. After departing the Lummi Island ferry terminal, Capt. Poole noticed there had been no movement of the kayak. He maneuvered the ferry off its normal course to investigate.
As the ferry approached, it became clear to Capt. Poole the kayak was adrift. The paddles were floating away from the kayak and two people,
a young man who wasn’t wearing a life vest and small child who was wearing a life vest, were in the water. Deck crew Tom Phillips and Doug Cash quickly pulled the kayakers onto the ferry, warmed them up and made sure they were okay.
When the ferry arrived at the Gooseberry Point ferry terminal, the young man and child were reunited with an older family member. Capt. Poole’s keen awareness of his surroundings and the quick and professional actions of the MV Whatcom Chief ferry crew resulted in a safe and happy ending to a kayak trip that very easily could have ended in tragedy.