Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

3 lives saved. These ordinary Tri-Cities workers jumped in to help during emergencies

By Annette Cary Tri-City Herald

KENNEWICK – Three people are alive because of the quick actions of a Kennewick public works employee, a Kennewick teacher and a Richland nuclear energy executive.

All three came across emergencies unexpectedly and took actions that included the Heimlich maneuver, using a portable AED and performing CPR until medics arrived.

“No one wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘Today’s the day I will save a life,’ ” said Craig Blackwood, assistant director of the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

“When faced with a life-threatening situation, these ordinary people took extraordinary measures to rescue their co-workers and, in some cases, complete strangers,” he said.

This week the three Tri-Cities workers were among 17 in Washington state honored with this year’s Lifesaving Awards at the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference in Tacoma.

All acted quickly and compassionately during emergencies in the 12 months through May 2022.

Tri-Cities winners

Kennewick teacher

Dwane Sitler, a teacher and the Park Middle School athletic director, responded when a student became unconscious after running a mile on the school’s track.

“We tried waking the student up. We tried checking for a pulse and all that,” Sitler said later, according to the school district. “I said, ‘I’m going to get the AED.’ ”

An automated external defibrillator was about 30 feet away in the school’s field shed. It was one of three at the school.

A shock from the AED immediately woke the student up.

The student was taken to a hospital by ambulance. They later returned to school, fully recovered.

Sitler credited all the school staff members who jumped in to help and activate the school’s emergency response procedure, according to the Kennewick School District.

“Everyone was in the right place at the right time,” he said.

Richland executive

Grover Hettel, chief nuclear officer at Energy Northwest in Richland, discovered a co-worker in a restroom who was having difficulty breathing and could not speak.

The co-worker had gotten something stuck in their throat and went to the restroom to try to remove it.

They pointed to their throat and chest, and Hettel went into action.

He performed the Heimlich maneuver to remove the blockage, saving his co-worker’s life.

Kennewick city worker

Cam Magelsen, a public works crew leader for the city of Kennewick, saw a jogger collapse as he was driving by in a city work vehicle.

Magelsen immediately stopped, called 911 and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation until first responders arrived.

The jogger received medical care for a heart attack at the hospital and now is doing well.

He has been thanking everyone, including Magelsen, who stepped up to help during his emergency.