It’s a harsh reality that many of our workers face when out in the field: Sometimes, you have to step up to help when nobody else answers the call.
Three natural gas workers – all members of the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO (UWUA) – followed this unwritten rule and were recently recognized during the UWUA’s annual convention for saving a man’s life.
The heroic act started out as any other day for the trio. It was a humid day last summer when Zach Ferguson, Hunter Corcoran and Jeffrey Kandler were working in Wayne County.
While making sure everything was safely in order before they shifted to the next job, Corcoran saw a man lying down by the steps of his yard who appeared to be unconscious.
The three sprang into action, alerting a nearby Michigan State trooper, who was helping route traffic around the project.
“He was unresponsive when we approached him,” said Ferguson. “He was lying on the ground and sweating profusely, but he was breathing. We could see about a two-inch deep gash on his head as well. Things weren’t looking great, but the first thing we did was get him out of the sun.”
In the meantime, Kandler called 911 to give details of the man’s condition and to request an ambulance. While waiting for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) they got a wet rag and put it on his head wound.
They also put the man in a recovery position – a technique where you put the injured person’s arm above their head and roll them on their side and keep them still – which Kandler and Ferguson learned in the Marines.
“It’s a rule of thumb to not only help them breathe, but it also helps their blood flow,” Ferguson said. “It definitely was something valuable that I learned many years ago.”
EMS arrived moments later to put the man on the stretcher and brought him to a local hospital.
What bothered the three workers was the man was likely unconscious for at least 20 minutes in an area with heavy traffic and nobody stopped.
The man’s own family brushed off his condition and a family member even admitted to stepping over him and didn’t seem to be too concerned.
“That’s pretty unthinkable for me to treat somebody like that,” said Ferguson. “That’s a human being and my mission every day is that I am always going to do my best to help somebody in need.”
The state police trooper on duty later thanked the trio for saving the man’s life and told them if it wasn’t for their quick reaction he would’ve likely died.
A few days after the incident, Corcoran bumped into the man and his sister. Both thanked him for helping him during his time of need. The man said he was doing better and was going through rehabilitation to help him recover.
“No matter the person or their background, everyone needs help at one time or another,” said Corcoran. “I would hope somebody would step up in my time of need to help me.”
Ferguson said he will forever be baffled why people are so hesitant to help.
“It’s unfortunate that sometimes nobody is willing to help you when you need it most,” Ferguson said. “But I can promise you that if you are in trouble and our team is around, we will do whatever we can to help. As far as I am concerned, it’s part of the job.”