GOOD NEWS!: Athens workers honored for lifesaving rescue

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Scott Pooters, center, is joined by Assemblyman Chris Tague, fourth from right, elected officials and Peckham Industries employees as they honored him Aug. 1 for the lifesaving actions he and several others took in saving a man’s life at the Athens plant. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest in the Greenville Pioneer’s ongoing “Good News!” series. There are all kinds of good things going on around Greene County and surrounding communities, and we want to highlight them and let everyone share in the “Good News!”

ATHENS — A health emergency that could have turned tragic had a happy ending when plant workers at Peckham Industries put their safety training to work to save a man’s life.

On Aug. 1, Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, presented the employees and company with citations honoring their good works that saved the life of Tommy Faxon.

Faxon is the owner of Tommy Faxon Excavation and a former employee of Peckham Industries. On June 9, Faxon was unloading a tanker truck at the company’s facility alongside the Hudson River in Athens when he started having a “heart-related health emergency.”

“Tommy showed some signs of distress,” said Steve Benton, corporate safety director for Peckham Industries. “He thought he was dehydrated but after a few minutes we decided it was more than dehydration — it was a heart emergency.”

Several Peckham Industries employees, including Scott Pooters, and Columbia County 911 dispatcher Robyn Sweet, an acquaintance of Faxon’s who was on the scene, jumped to action, along with employees Joe Sisto and Ahron Young.

All of the Peckham Industries workers had undergone safety training and knew what to do.

“They employed all their training to help him,” Benton said. “They did CPR and chest compressions first, and then they used the defibrillator. It is automated, so it tells you what to do — administer a shock, which they did — and then 911 responded.”

Pooters and Sweet took turns doing chest compressions and then Pooters employed the AED. An AED is an automated external defibrillator, which is used to help those experiencing a cardiac arrest, according to the American Red Cross.

“At least [Faxon] was in a spot where there were trained people to help him,” Benton said. “It could have been worse.”

Worse, indeed. Faxon said he was told at the hospital that the great majority of people who experience a health emergency like he did have a small chance of survival.

“When I was at the hospital, they said that for what happened to me out in the field, there is a 10% survival rate,” Faxon said. “Only 10% of people survive what I went through.”

Tague attributed the quick actions taken by Peckham workers to the safety training they underwent at the plant.

“This is proof that safety planning, teaching your employees how to do first aid and CPR, will save a life,” Tague said. “If we didn’t have that training, or if Scott [Pooters] and his people had not gone through that training to know that Tommy wasn’t feeling good, he could have just laid in that truck and someone could have found him four or five hours later.”

Decades ago, before state mandated training programs were implemented, there were relatively frequent work-related deaths, particularly in heavy construction, Tague said.

“We’ve come a long ways,” the assemblyman added.

If not for that safety training, the incident could have had a much more grim ending, Tague said.

“If not for the quick thinking of these four, it’s very likely our friend Tommy would no longer be with us today, so I thank these heroes for their courage during an incredibly distressing incident,” Tague said. “More than people in the right place at the right time, these four had the training and the will to do what they had to do to save Tommy’s life and didn’t hesitate to make a quick decision in a tough situation.”

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