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LIUNA Member’s Quick Thinking, Heroic Action Saves a Life

When Ernesto DeLeon Jr. woke up on his birthday and headed to work at the Morris Ridge solar farm project in Mount Morris, New York, he didn’t know yet how special the day would be. In just a few hours, he’d save a coworker’s life. A member of LIUNA Local 435 in Rochester, New York, Ernesto joined LIUNA as an apprentice in 2019 and had graduated to a journeyman Laborer in September of 2023.

A few hours later, when a fellow tradesperson went into cardiac arrest, Ernesto jumped into action and started performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Fortunately, Ernesto had received training in how to administer CPR during his time as an apprentice with Local 435. His quick thinking, bravery and the presence of mind to remember his training in a stressful moment ultimately helped save a life.

After hearing about Ernesto’s heroic act, John Nimmo, Health and Safety Specialist for the New York State Laborers’ Health and Safety Trust Fund, reached out to thank him and hear his story.

“Ernesto’s quick thinking and application of CPR not only provided immediate aid but also demonstrated exceptional courage and composure under pressure,” said Nimmo. “His actions are truly commendable and reflect LIUNA’s commitment to safety and the well-being of every worker on a project.”

Nimmo also learned that Ernesto is a regular attendee at Local 435 union meetings and training classes. “Ernesto’s actions in this emergency situation are a testament to the training he received through Local 435.”

What makes Ernesto’s story even more amazing is that this was actually the third time he performed CPR. The first time was on a family member and the second was on a fellow tradesperson during his days as an apprentice.

Providing CPR Training for Your Workforce

While having to administer lifesaving CPR on a jobsite isn’t an everyday occurrence, it may be more likely than you think. Every year, about 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer a heart attack or stroke.

In previous Lifelines articles, we’ve covered two other incidents of LIUNA members using CPR to save a coworker’s life on the job. In one instance, it was another case of sudden cardiac arrest. In the second, an IBEW member was electrocuted by exposed cables. Both times, LIUNA members jumped into action and used their quick thinking, training and compassion to help someone in need.

Employers can play a vital role in lifesaving CPR efforts by having the proper equipment on site and by providing periodic CPR refresher training to workers. On the Morris Ridge solar project above, LIUNA signatory contractor Blattner Company makes sure that all supervisors carry an AED unit in their vehicles and that CPR procedures are reviewed during new hire orientation.

When was the last time your workforce had CPR refresher training? The LIUNA Training and Education Fund’s network of training centers and certified instructors across the U.S. and Canada provides CPR training as part of their expansive curriculum. You can use their Find Training page to locate the LIUNA training center closest to you.

Key CPR Facts to Remember

Even if you aren’t certified to perform CPR, you can still help in an emergency situation.

  1. Call 911 immediately. Make sure first responders are on the way before you begin CPR. If someone else is nearby, have them call 911 while you begin CPR.
  2. Give CPR. Push down hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100-120 pushes a minute. Let the chest come back up to its normal position after each push. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends timing your pushes to the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
  3. Stick to “hands only” CPR unless you have formal CPR training. The AHA notes that the “hands only” CPR described above is as effective as CPR that includes rescue breathing in the first few minutes of a cardiac event.
  4. Continue CPR until medical professionals arrive or until a person with formal training can take over.

For more information, order the LHSFNA’s CPR/What to Do in a Choking Emergency fact sheet.

[Nick Fox]

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