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Lifesaving and humanitarian award winners announced

TUMWATER – An off-duty firefighter who dove into a river to save a drowning boy, co-workers who knew just what to do when a colleague suffered a heart attack and others who risked their lives to fight fires or save a friend are among the 16 men and women honored this year with Lifesaving and Humanitarian awards.

The lifesaving awards will be presented at the 59th annual Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference being held Sept. 29 and 30 at the Spokane Convention Center.

The annual safety conference is sponsored by the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the state Department of Labor & Industries. The event includes several safety demonstrations, workshops, and special events such as the 13th Annual Forklift Rodeo and the 37th Annual Poletop Rescue Competition. Registration is still open for those who wish to attend.

A highlight of the conference is the presentation of the Lifesaving and Humanitarian awards. Lifesaving awards are presented to people who provide urgent, hands-on actions in an effort to save a life.

Winners are selected by an independent committee of the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board comprised of business and labor representatives. The awards are presented on the first day of the conference.

Lifesaving Awards:

Tesoro petroleum refinery, Anacortes – Employees Jeffrey Francis, Robert L. Spiller, Pat L. Neely, John McGlinn, Michael Westbury, Shane West, Paul Gumbel, Maria Howling Wolf, Jeremiah Hurju, Robert LeRoy Ferrell, and John Colvin.

At 12:30 a.m. April 2, 2010, an explosion occurred at the Tesoro petroleum refinery in Anacortes. Ultimately, seven refinery workers died, but several people risked their lives trying to save and comfort the injured and others that could have been injured. Together, these 11 employees all performed heroically in their effort to battle the fire and aid their colleagues.

Monterey Gourmet Foods, Seattle - Adrian Rodriguez

On Adrian Rodriguez’s first day of work, he saved a life. On Jan. 7, 2010, the victim was training Adrian to sanitize an industrial mixer. He grabbed a hose, climbed on a platform and began washing the machine. The victim noticed the machine was not locked out, so he lifted the front gate, shutting the machine off, and climbed inside. But the gate dropped into the closed position, activating the machine. The victim’s foot was immediately pulled into the spinning mixer paddles and he was unable to free himself. Adrian immediately reached over the gate to grab the victim around the chest and pull him towards him, but could not free him. Still holding the victim, Adrian quickly reached for the emergency shutoff switch and stopped the machine. He pulled the victim to safety and went for medical assistance. The victim was transported to a medical facility and treated for a compound fracture of his foot. Without Adrian’s quick actions, the victim would have likely died.

City of Wenatchee Fire Department, Wenatchee - Dustin James Armitage

On Aug. 9, 2009, Dustin Armitage, an off-duty Wenatchee firefighter, was with his wife and daughter visiting Leavenworth’s Blackbird Island on the Wenatchee River when he heard screams. Rushing to the water, Dustin saw a woman and boy struggling in the rapids in the deep part of the river. Dustin reached out to keep them from going under, but the boy grabbed his neck and pulled him in. In seconds, both were pulled downriver about 300 feet. A bystander helped Dustin pull the boy from his neck so they could stay above water, while another bystander floated an inner tube out to them, allowing the woman and boy to float to the shoreline. Dustin struggled to shore, where he was so exhausted from his lifesaving efforts that he collapsed in the sand for 10 minutes. Without Dustin’s aid, the raging waters of the Wenatchee would likely have taken the lives of two people that day.

Department of Labor & Industries, Tumwater - Chuck Hennigan
Washington State Patrol - Trooper Reggie Woods

On Dec. 11, 2009, the Tumwater headquarters of the Department of Labor & Industries was just opening for business when an L&I employee collapsed and lay unconscious on the floor. L&I employee Chuck Hennigan was called and ran to the location, arriving just as two co-workers were working to get a response from the victim, who had no pulse and was not breathing. Chuck began CPR immediately and continued until WSP Trooper Reggie Woods arrived with an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED. Chuck shocked the employee once and the victim took a breath, but he and the trooper continued CPR until Tumwater firefighters arrived. Thanks to the immediate response and life saving procedures Chuck and Trooper Woods performed, the victim made a full recovery and returned to work.

Department of Labor & Industries, Tumwater - Mark Marinig

Mark Marinig was in the cafeteria of the Department of Labor & Industries headquarters on July 16, 2010 when a co-worker began to choke on a piece of carrot lodged in her throat. Her alarmed co-workers asked if anyone knew the Heimlich maneuver. Mark immediately responded, performed the Heimlich and dislodged the food. Thanks to Mark’s quick response and ability to provide the necessary life saving procedure, the victim was able to breathe again and return to work.

Humanitarian Award:

Canfor USA, Bellingham - Adam J. Perez

Adam Perez, worried that his colleague had not shown up for work or called for two days and the weekend, contacted the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office on March 24, and insisted they conduct a welfare check. When deputies went to the worker’s home, they found him unconscious on the floor. He was immediately taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham and found to be suffering from severe dehydration, Legionnaire’s Disease, anemia and double pneumonia. Thanks to Adam, the man recovered and, after an extended stay in a convalescent center, is once again working at Canfor USA.

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For media information: Hector Castro, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version: The Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Board will present Lifesaving awards to 16 people and a Humanitarian award to one at the 59th annual Industrial Safety and Health Conference in Spokane. Among those honored with the lifesaving awards will be an off-duty firefighter who helped rescue a woman and child from the Wenatchee River and 11 employees of the Tesoro petroleum refinery in Anacortes, who fought the fire and tried to save their colleagues. The conference will be held on Sept. 29 and 30.

More information is available at www dot wagovconf dot org.

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