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September 21, 2000

Safety conference to recognize lifesaving award winners

TUMWATER - A Wenatchee paramedic who jumped onto a snowy mountain from a hovering helicopter to assist a critically injured skier is one of 16 Washington residents being honored for heroic actions next month in Spokane.

The 16 real-life heroes will be recognized and honored during the opening session of the 49th annual Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Conference being held Oct. 4 and 5 in Spokane. The conference, co-sponsored by the Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries, draws upward of 2,000 professionals from across the state, all in common pursuit of safer and more healthful workplaces.

The program will include a two-hour blockbuster session to briefly review the state's new ergonomics rule and provide information about establishing an effective ergonomics program in the workplace.

The honoring of the lifesaving award recipients is a highlight of the conference's opening session.

"We are proud to honor and call attention to these 16 men and women who found themselves in the right place at the right time and did the right thing," said L&I Director Gary Moore. "I can't imagine a nobler act than saving the life of a fellow human being. This can mean the selfless putting one's self in harm's way or the sure and certain application of critical first-aid treatment under stressful circumstances."

One who acted without regard to his personal safety was Shawn Ballard. He leaped from a hovering helicopter onto snowy Copper Mountain near Lake Chelan last March to assist a skier who suffered a broken neck in a fall. Ballard immobilized the stricken skier and kept him warm while awaiting the arrival of a larger rescue helicopter from Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. After successfully assisting the skier into the military aircraft in the diminishing daylight, Ballard hiked down the mountain in darkness to safety.

Others receiving lifesaving awards (listed by hometown) include:

Bellingham

Scott Minkler
A lifesaving award is presented to Scott Minkler for his quick thinking and timely application of CPR last March when a young Canadian woman collapsed and lost consciousness while cycling in the Bellingham area. Minkler, a passing motorist who was flagged down by the cyclist's companion, provided CPR until medical aid arrived.

Chehalis

Josh Loree
A lifesaving award is presented to Josh Loree for his quick thinking and fast response last fall when a Chehalis man was injured while using a tractor to drag a log near his home. The driver was pinned and trapped when the tractor overturned. With the assistance of the victim's 15-year-old son and a neighbor, Loree was able to lift the tractor and allow the man to scramble free. Loree also applied direct pressure to the victim's bleeding arm and treated him for shock while transportation to a local hospital was arranged. Loree is a seasonal firefighter for the state Department of Natural Resources.

 Colbert (Spokane area)

Dale Duebel
Lifesaving awards are presented to Debbie Squires and Dale Duebel for providing quick and effective CPR after an electrician was knocked unconscious after being shocked while servicing a 220-volt electric heater at a Spokane bank last February. The electrician, who fell from a ladder, was not breathing as Squires, a bank employee, and Duebel, the victim's co-worker, assessed the situation. They quickly applied two-person CPR until medical aid arrived.

 Eastsound (Orcas Island)

Shawn Bren
Shawn Bren is presented a lifesaving award for a dramatic rescue of two capsized canoeists from the chilly waters of Eastsound on Orcas Island last April. Bren and several friends were at a resort when they noticed the two canoeists struggling with their capsized craft about 500 yards offshore. Bren enlisted the help of his friends, installed an outboard motor on one of the resort's boats and raced to rescue the stricken boaters. They pulled the couple aboard and brought them to shore where Bren provided blankets and built a fire to help them recover from the effects of hypothermia.

 Everett

Ron Brewer-Broadway
Ron Brewer-Broadway's lifesaving award is presented for his actions last March when a co-worker at the Boeing assembly plant in Everett suffered a heart attack and collapsed. Monitoring the victim's pulse and breathing, Brewer-Broadway began CPR when the victim stopped breathing and his pulse was undetectable. Brewer-Broadway continued the CPR until paramedics arrived and used a defibrillator to restart the victim's heart. The victim subsequently underwent surgery and recovered.

Paulette and Ernie Clayton
Everett boaters Paulette and Ernie Clayton are presented lifesaving awards for their help in rescuing a family of four whose boat caught fire and sank last July off Cypress Island near the San Juans. The Claytons and another boater were able to help the badly burned woman, her husband and their two young children from the water after they abandoned the burning pleasure boat. The Claytons then made a high-speed run to Anacortes, where a medical aid unit waited to whisk her to a hospital.

Montesano

Donald O. Lyons
Donald O. Lyons was selected to receive a lifesaving award for his actions last October at the Weyerhaeuser Pulp Mill in Montesano, where a routine cleaning operation on a piece of equipment went awry with near-deadly results. An improperly diluted cleansing agent resulted in a chemical reaction that triggered an immediate buildup of pressure. The building pressure quickly exceeded the unit's rated pressure capacity, threatening an explosion. Lyons recognized the danger, but exposed himself to the danger in order to warn several other workers to evacuate and seek cover. Seconds later, Lyons himself was caught in the ensuing explosion. He was knocked off his feet and thrown a short distance through the air, but was not seriously injured. His quick recognition of the danger and early warning permitted the crew to escape uninjured.

Olympia

Talis Abolins
A lifesaving award is presented to Talis Abolins for the actions he took in July 1999, saving a 7-year-old girl who was drowning in the frigid wind-swept waters of a British Columbia lake after her family's canoe capsized. Abolins, an assistant attorney general for the state of Washington, sent his wife to get help and then swam out to rescue the struggling girl. After bringing her ashore, he treated her for hypothemia until medical aid arrived.

Barbara Reed and Teri Hoskins
A lifesaving award is presented to Barbara Reed, an information technology specialist with the state Department of Retirement Systems, for her quick action in providing CPR to a co-worker who collapsed in the parking lot outside their office last April. Reed initiated rescue breathing to the unconscious victim and continued it until medical aid personnel responded to the emergency call. Teri Hoskins, a retirement services analyst for the Retirement Systems, is presented with a humanitarian award for her assistance in the incident.

Sandra J. Hall
As Sandra Hall entered a fast-food restaurant in Tacoma in July 1999, an out-of-control van was driven through a plate glass window, cutting and trapping a 2-year-old girl beneath a broken and bent window frame. The girl's panicked mother was pulling her bleeding daughter's arm in a frantic, but futile, effort to free her. Hall realized what was happening and stepped in to separate the two. The mother turned on her, slugging her between the eyes. Undaunted, Hall managed to separate the mother from the child and then enlisted two bystanders to pull on the window frame while she freed the youngster. She continued to comfort the young victim and applied direct pressure to her severely lacerated neck until medical aid arrived. Covered in blood - medics mistakenly thought Hall was injured and attempted to treat her - she nevertheless returned to her job at the state Department of Licensing, cleaned up and finished her work shift that day.

Spokane

Debbie Squires
Lifesaving awards are presented to Debbie Squires and Dale Duebel for providing quick and effective CPR after an electrician was knocked unconscious after being shocked while servicing a 220-volt electric heater at a Spokane bank last February. The electrician, who fell from a ladder, was not breathing as Squires, a bank employee, and Duebel, the victim's co-worker, assessed the situation and quickly went to work applying two-person CPR until medical aid arrived.

Tacoma

Robert C. Johnson
A lifesaving award is presented to Robert C. Johnson, a street maintenance worker for the city of Tacoma, for saving the life of a co-worker who was obliviously working in the path of a runaway truck and trailer. Johnson, who was working in the bed of the truck, noticed that it was moving. He jumped to the ground and attempted to set the parking brake, but discovered that it had failed, sending the truck over a set of chock blocks and down the hill toward the unaware worker who was turned away from the truck, operating a jackhammer. Johnson, unaware that he'd broken his ankle jumping from the truck, ran and tackled the endangered worker, his momentum knocking both of them from the path of the truck.

Michael St. Laurent
A humanitarian award is presented to Michael St. Laurent for his actions at a vehicle fire last June at the Boeing Co.'s surplus store. St. Laurent, a safety and health administrator for Boeing, discovered the truck fire in a nearby parking lot. He directed someone to call 911, located fire extinguishers and deployed them to contain the fire until firefighters responded to the scene.

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For media information, contact: 
Bill Ripple, L&I, 360-902-5407, ripp235@lni.wa.gov

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