An Emergency Preparedness Plan ‘May Have Saved This Man’s Life’

TARRYTOWN, NY—For contractors, most Mondays begin with the usual routine of managing planned work assignments with enough latitude built in to handle the curveballs that projects inevitably throw at them. But what happens when a totally unexpected event like an early morning heart attack on the jobsite is the way you begin the day?

Such was the case on Monday at 10 am when EMTs and the local police responded to an emergency call on a roadway construction site where a worker was stricken. Quick thinking and safety awareness on the job saved critical minutes in getting the man to the nearest hospital four miles away.

In more than four decades of working in his family-owned business, one CIC contractor said he can’t recall facing such an emergency so early in the morning. It was a shocker, he said, an immediate call for heightened powers of critical thinking and lightning-fast judgment, he explained. “I felt like time was standing still.”

Shaking his head in amazement, he added, “All those safety courses we take through the CIC every January might have saved a man’s life today. We had all the information we needed at our fingertips—emergency numbers and contacts, his family information, medical personnel to call. We had a really great plan.”

Wishing to remain anonymous, the contractor explained that the annual safety seminars the CIC presents in association with NYSDOT each January, definitely prepared his company—from office personnel to the crew leaders at each of their jobsites—in how to manage an emergency like this cardio attack incident and what actions were needed.

“We followed everything we’ve been told to do, right down to knowing the exact coordinates where the ambulance had to go on the jobsite,” he said, still emotionally wracked by the emergency, his voice quivering. “The last thing the EMS driver said to me as he drove away was, ‘You may have saved this man’s life today.’”

There are 10,000 cardiac arrests every year in workplaces in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. The agency noted that if these workers receive immediate defibrillation, “the survival rate can be as high as 60%. If they don’t, the survival rate is as low as five to seven percent.”

Therefore, the minutes after a cardiac arrest are critical. “Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, or an automated external defibrillator, or AED, can greatly increase the chance of survival. However, the American Heart Association notes, only half of workers on a project site know where an AED is located.”

Also, the likelihood of suffering a heart attack on a jobsite is 13% higher on Mondays as compared with other days of the week, according to studies. Scientists have found a strong statistical correlation between the start of the working week and incidents of STEMI, with the most likely timing of a cardiovascular event occurring in the early morning between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

These and other takeaways of this incident are likely to become part of discussions at the CIC/NYSDOT Safety Seminar, which is scheduled for Tues., Jan. 16, 2024 at the Culinary Institute of America.

Registration will begin in November. You should save the date now.

(Epilogue: That same morning, the Laborer underwent an emergency double bypass with two stents installed.  He was eating Jell-O by 1:00 pm that afternoon.)

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