Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S. In fact, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year at unexpected places like work or the grocery store, according to the American Heart Association. The encouraging news, however, is that over the years bystander CPR has significantly improved survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest victims. A group of LyondellBasell employees are among the courageous bystanders who have stepped up in critical situations and found there is a big opportunity to save someone’s life and implement the company’s GoalZERO safety culture anytime, anywhere.
When faced with a crisis, planning and preparation can make all the difference. At LyondellBasell’s Lake Charles Polyolefin Plant in Westlake, Louisiana, three employees immediately jumped into action when one of their fellow colleagues collapsed after going into cardiac arrest. Chris Chaisson, Dawn Hinton, and Amanda Hebert were able to save their colleague Kenneth Ronayne’s life through performing CPR. They also utilized the facility’s automated external defibrillator (AED) for 30 minutes until the paramedics arrived on the scene. Kenneth is still alive today because of the employees’ quick, life-saving efforts.
“Having employees trained in CPR and the immediate availability of an AED device allowed for a quick response, which ultimately saved his life,” said Garrett Alexander, manager, Health, Safety and Environment, LyondellBasell Lake Charles plant.
The incident shed light on measures the site can take to save even more lives in critical situations. The facility is working to have more people CPR certified and provide access to additional AED devices, as both have proven to ensure the safety of personnel. Having multiple CPR/AED certified responders available during a medical emergency is imperative since EMS response times vary, and responders can become fatigued quickly. According to the American Heart Association, CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. In Kenneth’s situation, having multiple certified CPR/AED responders enabled high quality CPR for a much longer period of time with adequate work/rest cycles between intervals.
“Availability of and easy access to AEDs and thorough training in their usage is crucial to the health and safety of our personnel, said Shannon Fehrenbach, EMT, LyondellBasell Tuscola (TCO) facility. “Regular medical and emergency training on various scenarios ensures awareness of the hazards onsite, and a swift confident response in the case of an emergency. The TCO family exemplifies this idea, as an AED was used in the successful resuscitation of one of our own, following a personal medical emergency in 2018. In a true emergency, minutes and seconds matter, and quick access to the proper equipment makes a huge difference. It certainly makes a difference to the Tuscola family daily, as we can come to work and go about our day safely and with confidence in our training and in each other.”
GoalZERO is part of the LyondellBasell culture that employees strive to demonstrate at work, and at home. Justin Thomas, an electrician at the company’s Houston Refinery, experienced an unforeseen situation where his training played a vital role in helping save a life.
Justin was out shopping for milk when he heard a woman scream. He immediately ran toward the woman, saw her on the floor and began administering CPR. Justin served in the U.S. Coast Guard for ten years and the medical training he received was needed at that very moment. The woman appeared to be going into cardiac arrest. Along with another customer, Justin administered chest compressions until the paramedics arrived.
"In the heat of the moment, there was no time to think about what I was doing," said Thomas. "I just went into autopilot when I saw someone in need. The biggest take away from this whole thing and what I hope at least someone has learned, is that doing something is always better than nothing. Don't assume the next person is going to jump into action. Also, if you don't know CPR, please take the time to get qualified. It could save someone's life."
A medical emergency can happen at any time. Whether a coworker in the office, a stranger at the grocery store, or a child during a birthday party, life threatening medical emergencies occur. In all three instances where CPR was performed, the quick instincts and training of each of the employees ended up saving a life.