Employee CPR classes pay off

Fellow co-workers save Kevin Black's life after on-the-job heart attack
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Kevin Black, a heavy equipment operator for a Loomis company, didn’t go to work on March 27 expecting to almost lose his life, but that is what almost happened. He’s grateful that his life was saved by co-workers at Western Engineering Contractors, who had been given training in cardio pulmonary resuscitation by the company for just such an emergency. After showing up for work at the new California Highway Patrol headquarters on Richards Boulevard in Sacramento, Black started his tractor to grade the new parking lot and subsequently had a heart attack. Cindy Dunn, one of his Western Engineering co-workers, noticed he had slumped over the machine’s wheel and called for her three other team members to help. Jim Dedmon, Robert Butterfield and Tom Matties all traded off in administering CPR to Black and restarted his heart before emergency personnel arrived. “Thank goodness those guys were there,” Black said. Even though he’d experienced anxiety and a “feeling of ugly” and had been examined by a doctor, Black said the morning of the heart attack he had felt fine. “There was no warning at all,” said Black, 49. Black was also a smoker, a habit he acquired at the age of 30. He has since quit smoking. After the heart attack, he underwent a triple bypass. He’s not strong enough to return to work yet, but expects to feel better in the coming months. “Slowly, but surely, I’ll get back into shape,” he said. Black has been told he can go back to work doing light duty soon. “After six months, I’ll be able to get back on equipment. There isn’t too much light duty work in construction. It’s all pretty hard work,” he said. Black himself began the CPR training when offered by his employer, but was not able to complete the class. He plans to take the training again and earn a certificate. “If it saves one life, it’s worth every minute of it,” he said. David Carroll, Western Engineering site superintendent, was pleased how company employees reacted to the situation. “Everyone knew what to do and did it. In these kinds of situations people tend to panic, which can lead to doing the wrong things, but our team stayed calm and professional and did what they had been trained to do,” he said. Don Carroll, his brother and the company owner, said the CPR training was initiated for the safety manager more than 20 years ago but is now available to anyone who wants to become certificated. He sees it as a kind of company perk. “We felt it was beneficial to have more training than not,” he said. Employees, he added, might also use the training at home in a personal situation. The company just held a recertification class, with attendance by about two-dozen employees. Western Engineering Contractors currently has 100 employees, which Don Carroll said peaked at about 125 about a year ago. Don Carroll started Western Engineering Contractors in 1982 and incorporated in 1983 when he also became the sole owner. “We focus on commercial, industrial, school construction and public road work,” he said. The company has completed several notable community projects, including the earthwork and infrastructure work at the Raley’s Shopping Center. Western Engineering also installed the Del Oro High School track and field project in the summer of 2007 and completely removed, rebuilt and replaced the Taylor Road surface from King to Foothill Feed in 2005. They are currently doing the pipeline work at Sierra College Boulevard and Rocklin Road, and plan to bid on upcoming Town of Loomis projects.