CPR training prepares employees to save a life

Diligence, discipline and strong encouragement for learning CPR and first aid led a trio of Great River Energy employees to save the life of a guest speaker who collapsed during a recent presentation.

“We didn’t know what to think. Everything was fine, and then the facilitator just tipped over backwards, flat on his back,” said Rick Lancaster, vice president and chief generation officer of Great River Energy. “He didn’t bend at the knees or arms. I knew he was in trouble when I heard his head hit the floor.”

Fresh from co-op-sponsored training, employees put their rescue skills to the test in the hotel conference room.

Lancaster and two others rushed to the victim’s aid. Lancaster was at his head; Dustin Privette, safety administrator, and Wade Aanderud, plant operations leader, went to each side. Following CPR protocol, Lancaster tried to talk to the victim but got no response.

With the meeting participants looking on, Privette started chest compressions and instructed bystanders to call 911, inform hotel personnel, retrieve an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and direct paramedics to the scene.¬†Within minutes after starting compressions, the victim showed signs of life, said Lancaster, who was about to use the AED device but got a “do not shock” signal, an indicator of a pulse.

“He made a noise, as if he had been hit in the chest and got the wind knocked out of him, and then he started taking a few labored breaths,” said Lancaster. “His color slowly began to normalize after that.”

Paramedics arrived about 10 minutes after the 911 call, and took the victim, who was alert, to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with low blood pressure, said Lancaster.

Recognition for the rescuers included Great River Energy’s Good Neighbor Award of Excellence and a personal visit a week later from the victim and his wife.

“It was impressive to see how quickly everyone took direction,” said Lancaster, who has since bought an AED kit. “It made me grateful to work for an employer that cares enough to train us.”