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September 18, 2008

Safety conference to honor 38 with lifesaving and humanitarian awards

TUMWATER — Thirty-eight people will be given lifesaving and humanitarian awards at the 57th annual Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference in Spokane Sept. 24-25. Their heroic acts aided individuals involved in vehicle accidents, or who suffered heart attacks, near-drownings and other perils.

The conference will be at the Spokane Convention Center. More than 1,500 people are expected to participate in more than 70 events, including workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations, a trade show, and special events such as a forklift rodeo and poletop-rescue competition. Registration begins onsite at 7 a.m. Sept. 24. Cost is $160.

Mike Heuer, Awards Committee chairman, will present the lifesaving awards honoring individuals who use their first‑aid training and hands-on actions to save someone’s life. He will also present humanitarian awards, which are given when lifesaving efforts were made but the victim did not survive or when actions or deeds prevented the loss of life by means other than hands-on actions.

Here are the lifesaving and humanitarian awards, listed according to where the individuals work or live:

Asotin/Pomeroy - Department of Fish and Wildlife workers were building a fence in a remote location southwest of Asotin when one worker fell more than 40 feet down a steep bluff. Dave Meisner was the first one to reach his conscious, injured co-worker. Another co-worker, Jeff Wade, was able to reach his supervisor by radio, who then called 911. Meisner and Wade used their shirts to keep the victim warm and control his bleeding. Due to the isolation of the area, it was more than an hour before help arrived and the victim was airlifted to the nearest hospital. Because of Meisner and Wade’s timely and knowledgeable use of first aid and emergency procedures, their co-worker has since recovered.

East Wenatchee/Wenatchee - Three Chelan County PUD employees were working at Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee when they noticed a man in the distance who appeared to have difficulty walking. As Blake Hancock, Mike Broderson and Jose Urrutia observed, they saw the man fall down and disappear from sight. Arriving on the scene, they discovered that the man had fallen down a 20-foot embankment and into the Columbia River. After Broderson called 911, he joined Hancock and Urrutia as they climbed down the embankment and into the water, where they pulled the man out. Thanks to their teamwork and willingness to come to his aid, they saved the victim from drowning.

Everett – As lab assistant Scott Perrault was arriving at work for the city of Everett, he heard cries for help and saw flashing lights and emergency vehicles on the freeway overpass six stories up. Thinking a rescue was under way, he proceeded to prepare for work when he heard cries from below the bridge and went to investigate. There, he found a woman who had survived the icy crash on the bridge and had tried to jump for safety, instead falling off the bridge. She had numerous broken bones, but thanks to Perrault, she was found and survived the ordeal.

Kennewick – Driving home after work, Thomas C. Woods, a commercial vehicle enforcement officer for the State Patrol, spotted flames covering the front of a home. He turned on his lights and siren to get the attention of anyone who might have been in the house. Running around the side of the house, he saw a young boy trying to get out of the home, and helped him out a side door. Woods then went into the home and rescued some dogs. Officer Woods was honored with an Award of Merit by the State Patrol.

King County – State Patrol Sgt. Kim Triplett was off duty and heading home when she came across a horrific accident along I-405. A vehicle had rolled on its side, and most of the six teenage occupants were thrown out. One was trapped under the wreckage. Sgt. Triplett flagged down passing motorists at peril to herself, and five men then helped her lift the vehicle off the teen while someone else pulled her out. Sgt. Triplett administered first aid until paramedics arrived. All the teens are expected to make a full recovery.

Littlerock - James Erwick, a correctional officer at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, was traveling to work when he witnessed a co-worker lose control of her vehicle, which then proceeded to go down a 15-foot ravine and come to rest in a swift-moving creek. Erwick climbed down the ravine and carefully helped the 28-week pregnant co-worker out of the crushed vehicle and up the road to safety. After flagging down another motorist and ensuring 911 was called, Erwick drove the co-worker to meet the ambulance. Thanks to Erwick’s fast action, two lives were saved that day.

Longview – Weyerhaeuser Pulp and Paper employee Michael Mayfield was having lunch with a co-worker when the co-worker began to struggle for breath. Mayfield determined that the man was choking and quickly began the Heimlich maneuver. Thanks to Mayfield’s first-aid training, the food was dislodged and Mayfield’s co-worker recovered.

Olympia - It was the end of the working day when Becky McAninch-Dake, a program manager at the Department of Social and Health Services in Olympia, received a phone call from an extremely distraught woman who had attempted suicide. As she engaged the woman to keep her talking, McAninch-Dake signaled an experienced mental-health co-worker for help as she also relayed information to 911. McAninch-Dake kept the woman on the phone for 45 minutes until emergency responders arrived at the home. McAninch-Dake’s efforts helped the woman receive the help she needed.

Othello – Esequiel Martinez, a mechanic at Friehe Farms, heard a truck driver’s screams for help over the intercom and ran outside to help. He found the driver trapped underneath a dump truck and caught in the drive line. Martinez shut off the truck and went to the driver’s rescue, keeping him calm until help arrived. The driver lost part of his arm that day, but thanks to Martinez’s fast action, he is alive.

Redmond – Jeff Hammitt was at work at Genie Industries when he was notified that an employee was unconscious on the floor. Assessing that the person wasn’t breathing, Hammitt began CPR while 911 was called. Co-workers also rushed to help – Mark Haller assisted Hammitt in continuing CPR until Doug Schmidt arrived and administered the automated external defibrillator. Thanks to the quick response of Hammitt, Haller and Schmidt, their co-worker’s life was saved that day.

Richland - Brad Jackson, a Fluor Hanford HAMMER Training Facility employee, was returning to his residence when he saw a man face down on the sidewalk. Jackson pulled over, called 911, and went to assist the man. After a quick assessment, Jackson began performing CPR. Richland Fire Department paramedics arrived a few minutes later and administered first aid as Jackson continued CPR. The victim was flown to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane where he was diagnosed as having had a heart attack. Thanks to Jackson’s quick actions, the man has since made a full recovery.

Richland – A member of the Columbia Basin Racquet Club suffered a heart attack while on a treadmill. Frances Sharpe, an RN from Kadlec Medical Center, saw the commotion and ran to help. She started CPR, instructed someone to bring the automated external defibrillator, and then administered a shock to the victim’s heart, which restarted the beating. EMTs arrived moments later and transferred the victim to the hospital. He is recovering nicely.

Seattle – Lt. Russell Ellis Jr. of the University of Washington Police Department was on his way to pick up his children from school when he saw an elderly woman lying face down on the sidewalk. He called 911 and began assessing her condition. She wasn’t breathing, so he performed CPR until medics arrived and took her to the hospital. Due to Officer Ellis’s intervention, she survived and made a full recovery.

Spokane County – Avista Utilities line-crew workers Matt Swan, Todd Crawford, Ben Little and Mitch Colvin were working in a remote location in Idaho when a man in a truck came barreling down the road seeking help for a co-worker with a severe head injury. They went to the man’s aid in an area not accessible to emergency vehicles and made a decision to transport him out so he could be reached by medical personnel. Together, the men applied first aid, called for help, readied him for transport and directed the air ambulance to where they were waiting. Thanks to their teamwork and willingness to come to his aid, the man survived and is recovering.

Spokane ValleyJonathan Higginson, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad conductor who had just completed his second tour in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, was in his apartment when he heard a smoke alarm in a nearby apartment and a woman screaming. After calling 911, Higginson took off his shirt and wet it down to protect his head and face, and entered the building – twice – to rescue the woman’s two children, ages 2 and 3. The children have made full recoveries from what might have turned out tragically different except for the bravery of Higginson.

Tacoma – When a co-worker suddenly fell to the floor and appeared unconscious and rigid, Labor & Industries’ employees Jeff Spann, Janann Campbell and Diane Oltman rushed to his aid. Recognizing that he was choking, Campbell and Oltman began to help but weren’t able to dislodge the food. Spann called 911 and rushed to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Thanks to their teamwork, their co-worker fully recovered.

TacomaRick Coovert, a retired teacher and coach, was looking at his neighbor’s new sawmill. As the neighbor began to cut into a log, the blade got caught and kicked back, catching the man’s shirt and pulling him into the blade. Coovert reacted immediately, turning off the saw and pulling his neighbor off the blade and caring for him until he could be airlifted to Harborview. The man needed multiple surgeries to recover from the severe injury, but thanks to Coovert’s fast action, he has recovered.

Walla Walla - Department of Corrections Community Corrections Officers Roy Massey and Jeffrey Bickle were transporting a restrained offender when they witnessed a serious accident that blocked both lanes of traffic. Massey and Bickle stopped to check the status of the two victims. One of the victims had already passed away, while the second was still alive. They called 911 and treated the victim for shock by keeping him calm and still. Massey and Bickle’s efforts prevented further injury or loss of life.

Walla Walla - Tanner Mink, a correctional sergeant at the Washington State Penitentiary, was visiting his twin brother and brother-in-law in Idaho when they saw an out-of-control pickup go by and disappear. After hearing a crash, the men ran to the scene where they found the pickup overturned and partly submerged in the frigid water of a creek. The driver was trapped inside and was trying to keep his head above water. While his brother called 911, Mink and his brother-in-law jumped into the creek and pulled the man out as paramedics arrived. Mink’s actions were instrumental in helping save the man’s life.

Wenatchee – When a co-worker slipped into unconsciousness and stopped breathing while at work at Keyes Fibre Corp., seven employees were part of a textbook emergency response. Matt Thompson called 911, Kerry Crouse went out to wait for the EMTs, Len Geren checked for vital signs and later performed CPR, Sergio Osegeura brought blankets, Constantino Hurtado brought the automated external defibrillator (AED), and Jeff Vickery applied the AED. The victim and his family thank everyone for helping save his life.

Yelm – Maureen McMurdie was watching TV when she heard something fall in the kitchen. She found her husband slumped against the refrigerator. McMurdie called 911, and the operator talked her through CPR procedures step by step. Paramedics arrived seven minutes later, and administered shocks with an automated external defibrillator. Since then, McMurdie’s husband has had quadruple bypass surgery and has returned to work.


For media information: Xenofon Moniodis, 360-902-645

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