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October 14, 1999

Safety conference to recognize 1999 lifesaving award winners

TUMWATER - A Highline Communty College security guard who pulled a worker out of a room filled with scalding, waist-deep water will be among 24 Washington women and men honored for lifesaving efforts during the past year.

These real-life heroes will be recognized and honored during the opening session of the 48th annual Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Conference Oct. 20 and 21 in Seattle. The conference, co-sponsored by the Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries, draws upward of 3,000 professionals from across the state, all in common pursuit of safer and more healthful workplaces.

Honoring lifesaving award recipients is a highlight of the opening session.

"The men and women here today found themselves at 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, whether it be the selfless putting one's self in harm's way or the sure and certain application of critical first-aid treatment in stressful circumstances."

One who did not hesitate to act during an emergency was David Birmingham, an off-duty Seattle firefighter. Birmingham was one of the first people on the scene when a Seattle Metro bus plunged off the Aurora Bridge n Seattle. He immediately began helping passengers off the bus and performed first aid.

Others receiving lifesaving awards (listed by hometown) include:

Anacortes. John Acker, Gary Casperson and Douglas Elliott, workers on the Bellingham channel ferry, saved the life of a capsized kayaker in the frigid waters off Cypress Island.

 Arlington/Lake Stevens. John Annis and Don Buford performed CPR on a co-worker who suffered a heart attack at work. Because of their action, the victim survived.

Bonney Lake. Lester Watson performed CPR on a co-worker who suffered cardiac arrest while working. The co-worker survived and, after rehabilitation, returned to work.

Bothell. Tom Cash performed CPR on a victim who severed a live electrical cable. Thanks to Cash's actions the victim survived.

Chelan. Debra Montgomery pulled a rollover car accident victim away from the scene and provided first aid until emergency personnel arrived.

Colville. Jeffery Ruddell came upon a traffic accident and performed CPR on one of the accident's victims.

Des Moines. Kevin Gunderson, ignoring his own burn injuries, pulled a co-worker from a room of scalding water.

Ferndale. Archie Hattery performed the Heimlich maneuver on a choking co-worker after the man jumped up from their game of chess and began clutching his throat.

Lynden/Mount Vernon. Marvin Sandland and Rick Patnode came to the aid of their co-worker who fell from a bridge project on which the trio was working. They cleared his airway, stabilized his neck and called for help. Their quick action prevented the worker from suffering paralysis and death.

Olympia. Jeanna Grover, while watching her daughter's basketball game, came to the aid of a referee who suffered a stroke. She calmed the man down and convinced him of his need to seek medical attention. He was transported to the hospital where he underwent five hours of brain surgery for a brain aneurysm.

Spokane. William Drath, while on patrol as a Washington State Parks and Recreation ranger, pulled a man from a car filling with exhaust. The man had extended a hose from the tailpipe to the interior of the car. After being pulled from the car, the man tried to flee. Drath restrained him until medical personnel and police arrived.

Tacoma. Chuck Whitt talked a distraught man out of the cold waters adjacent to Simpson Tacoma Kraft mill. Had the man continued swimming, hypothermia would have set in and the man could have slipped under the dark water into death.

Walla Walla/College Place. Kevin Davis, Kevin Huxoll, Harold Postlewait, Kirk Zehner and Dale Zipf, correctional officers at the Washington State Penitentiary, broke up an inmate fight and thanks to their quick administration of CPR saved the life of an inmate who had been stabbed repeatedly.

Wenatchee. Randy Alexander and Matt Brunner acted without hesitation when they came upon a rollover car accident. The pair assisted the injured, providing direct pressure to halt severe bleeding and dressing the victims' wounds.

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