Two with DOT honored for helping save co-worker's life
By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 10, 2012 1:50 AM
Shawn Strickland, center, was at work on April 23 when he suffered a heart attack. His co-workers, Glenn Massey, left, and Fred Allen, right, performed CPR on him until rescue personnel arrived.
Shawn Strickland didn't get to celebrate his 38th birthday on April 23, but thanks to the quick action of two co-workers, he can look forward to celebrating in the future with his 15-year-old daughter, and 12- and 9-year-old sons.
An employee with the state Department of Transportation's Wayne County maintenance office, Strickland was on a work crew in the Grantham area that Monday morning when he suffered a heart attack. Co-workers Glenn Massey of Grantham and Fred Allen of LaGrange came to his aid.
Strickland of Mount Olive recalls feeling ill and sitting in a truck, but remembers nothing after that.
"It was eye-opening for one thing," Strickland said. "Really and truly I shouldn't be here. Without them, and the rescue, and others, I shouldn't be here. I'd had no problems at all. It just happened, no warning at all.
"From what I was told, it was about the third day in the hospital before I ever came to and recognized where I was and what had happened. My mother has helped me out a lot to remember what these guys have done. I don't remember it and I am still learning day by day."
Strickland underwent heart surgery at Wake Medical Center where he was later told he had a 95 percent blockage on the right side of his heart. He was out of work for about four weeks and returned to work May 21.
Massey and Allen were honored last month by Gov. Beverly Perdue in ceremonies held in the Old House Chambers in the state Capitol building. DOT employees are trained in CPR as part of their safety training.
"He was gone, but he came back," Massey said. "I have done it (CPR) for 17 years with the fire service. I would do it again tomorrow for anybody. I didn't do it for this recognition here. I did it because I have been volunteering for so many years doing it. The 17 years of fire service and eight years in rescue just kicked in when he told me he was hurting in his chest.
"I did it for him. We have known each other 19 years. When you work with somebody like we do out here, you are with them almost as a much as you are with your own family at home. So when something happens to them it hurts just about as bad just like it is a family member."
"I really didn't want to do this (recognition)," Allen said. "There were a whole lot of other people involved that day other than just the two of us."
Among them, he said, was a lady in their office who'd given Strickland an aspirin that morning after he'd complained about not feeling well.
"I don't take credit, but I am just glad I was able to help him, and he is alive today. He is a lucky man There are no many people who don't get the chance this man got," Allen said.
Fortunately, Massey said, things just happened to fall into place that morning for Strickland, especially the fact that the Grantham rescue truck had just returned from a call when they dialed 911 and was only three miles away.
He explained that they knew Strickland had not been feeling well that morning and had just checked on him a few minutes before another employee alerted him that he was complaining of chest pains at about 10 a.m.
"I knew when he told me what it was. A few minutes later he laid back in the seat and I hollered and Fred Allen came over," Massey said. "We got him out of the truck and onto the ground and gave CPR until the rescue truck got there."
Allen said he wasn't the only one to respond to Massey's call for help -- he was just the first to get over to the truck.
"Instinct kicked in. I wasn't nervous. My adrenaline was flowing. We got him out of the truck and on the ground. I put my ear to his chest -- I couldn't hear his heart, but Massey kept checking his pulse and said he had a pulse, but he had quit breathing. That is when I started giving compressions," Allen said.
Massey added that with Strickland's pulse "going and coming," that it seemed like an eternity before the ambulance arrived, but in reality was probably only a couple of minutes, "because I could heard the sirens coming from the time that they pulled out."
Massey also called his son, Kevin, who lives nearby, and who is a Goldsboro city firefighter and EMT. He assisted at the scene.
"They put him in the truck and when they put him in the truck he was a dark shade of purple," Massey said.
Massey said he was told later that rescue personnel did not get a heartbeat on Strickland until they reached Wayne Memorial Hospital. They later found out about noon that he was being airlifted to Wake Medical Center.
"Right as the ambulance got there we lost everything, didn't we Massey?" Allen said. "The whole time my heart was down here in my stomach. The adrenaline flow affected me until late in the afternoon.
"You think, 'Lord, what could have I have done different or did I do everything that I could have done?' Then you wonder how he is and you are waiting for every bit of information that you can find out. When we saw him, I really didn't think that he was going to make it."