Two Regional Water Resource Agency (RWRA) workers were having a normal workday last month, until the unexpected happened.
Dean Sipes, maintenance level 3 at RWRA, who has been with the agency for 23 years, and Systems Inspection Supervisor, Adam Higdon, with RWRA for 14 years, were on their way to Evansville to pick up a truck when they received a call from a camera truck crew on 4th Street. The camera crew needed assistance while locating residential connections.
Adam parked their vehicle just outside the work area that was sectioned off with cones. Dean stayed in the truck while Adam answered the call from the camera crew.
“Adam pulled over just to the right spot,” Dean said. “I guess the Lord was watching us. Because if we had been parked a couple of feet either way, I would never have seen this guy.”
While Dean was in the truck, he could hear the resident of the home he was parked in front of running a chain saw. Curious as to what the man was cutting down, Dean was looking that direction when he saw the man collapse against his home, still holding the chain saw. Unsure if the man tripped or something worse, Dean jumped out of the truck and ran to the man.
He was unresponsive once Dean reached him and was actually sitting on the chain saw. Acting quickly, Dean turned the chain saw off and moved it away from the man.
At this time, Adam saw Dean springing into action and quickly ran to the aid of his co-worker. Seeing the situation, Adam immediately dialed 911.
At this point the man was turning blue. Dean started chest compressions and Adam began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
“We must have done that for four minutes,” Adam said. “But it seemed like a lot longer.”
After just four minutes – what seemed like an eternity for Adam and Dean – the fire department and ambulance arrived on the scene.
With no response from the chest compressions, the emergency responders shocked the unconscious man, loaded him on a gurney and put him in the ambulance for the hospital.
Dean and Adam knocked on the front door of the residence and informed the woman that answered the door, the man’s mother, what had happened.
“Then we got in our truck and went to Evansville,” Dean said, unsure if they would ever know the fate of this man. “I thought if I ever saw him again it would be his picture in the obituaries.”
But one of the first responders to the scene was a friend of a fellow RWRA worker. That connection allowed the first responder to contact Adam later that night. The EMT told Adam that the man, 72 years old, was having a massive heart attack and that he was already coming back to life in the ambulance because of the quick actions Adam and Dean took. He received two stints at Owensboro Health and was doing well.
Dean and Adam have not seen the man since their heroic actions. They have since talked about what perfect conditions led to their ability to save this stranger. If they had not received that call from the camera crew, if Dean had not stayed in the truck, if they had not parked in the perfect spot… the man wouldn’t have survived.
“The Lord just had His hand in it the whole way,” Dean said.
Dean and Adam are both thankful for the first aid and CPR training they receive through RWRA.
“We were rattled at first, but we went in to auto mode. This is just a job we have to do,” Dean said.
Holly Castlen, Safety and Environmental Manager, coordinates all safety training at RWRA. According to Castlen, the management at RWRA wants all 75+ employees to receive recertification in first aid and CPR, although not required agency-wide.
Holly says that almost all cases of an employee using their first aid or CPR training has been on a personal level and not actually on the job.
“These guys take their jobs very seriously,” Castlen said. “They take their training every seriously. What we do is hazardous. There is a lot of potential for injury or something to go wrong. So they do a good job of taking their training seriously and then when that scenario actually occurs, they are ready to respond. These guys, because they do confined space entries daily, they work in traffic every day, they do a very good job of responding to emergency situations. They are quick to respond, they stay levelheaded and they do an excellent job at responding.”
RWRA Executive Director Joseph Schepers told Owensboro Living that the EMTs relayed that this man owes 100 percent of his still being alive to the quick and accurate action of Dean and Adam.
“I am very proud of the fact two of our guys were able to use the CPR training we provide to help this gentleman,” Schepers said. “I am also proud that our crews stay well aware of our surroundings. I cannot say enough good about our employees, especially Dean and Adam.”