Safety Coordinator Darrell Steele, at the location of the incident. In addition to Mr. Steele, four additional Storekeepers, Charles Richardson, CJ Justice, Waynette Lyons and Hugo Alaniz used safety training to come to the aid of a fallen Aircraft Inspector.

Eric Price
August 11, 2017 Houston, TX. —

Storekeepers from Houston are being commended for helping to rescue a coworker who suddenly collapsed while working near the United Airlines hanger at Houston’s IAH.

Charles Richardson was at work in the receiving area of Hanger B at IAH when he saw a United Airlines Aircraft Inspector suddenly collapse, falling unconscious just feet away from his work station. Instinctively, he knew that the situation was serious and immediately called for help.

First to the scene was IAM 141 member and Stores Safety Coordinator, Darrell Steele. Quickly assessing the situation, Steele instantly began administering CPR and coordinating the efforts to help his fallen co-worker.

Darrell Steele

A certified CPR Instructor, Steele knew right away that the situation was dire.

“Once I got to him, I saw that he was bleeding from his face, from the way he fell. I checked his vitals and I couldn’t find a pulse, and he wasn’t breathing. CJ (Charles Justice) rushed to grab a nearby defibrillator, and I was able to use it to restore a heartbeat. I had to shock him 3 times.”

Although defibrillators are widely available throughout much of the airport, many employees lack the training needed to use them effectively. Luckily, Darrell Steele was trained in the use of the lifesaving equipment.

Once he had established a faint heartbeat, Darrell then performed 2 rounds of CPR. When he could no longer continue, Hugo Alaniz took over the chest compressions, performing an additional round. Storekeeper Waynette Lyons helped count off the compressions.

A “round” of CPR lasts about 2-3 minutes, and requires from between 30 to 60 chest compressions each. It is a physically demanding process, and emergency responders can quickly become too exhausted to correctly perform the procedure. In this case, the storekeepers were able to assist one another to continue the lifesaving efforts.

Paramedics arrived and transported the patient to a nearby medical facility, where he is reportedly in Intensive Care. No further information as to his condition was available as of Friday afternoon. The cause of his collapse is still unknown.

“I just pray he’s going to be ok.” Darrell told IAM141 EAP Regional Representative Bahiyyah Wright, who came by the Hanger to extend her sympathies, and to offer the services of the EAP, should they be needed. The IAM141 Employee Assistance Program can help connect members to professional help in cases of extreme stress or trauma.

IAM141 Regional EAP Coordinator, Bahiyyah Wright discussing the Employee Assistance services that are offered to IAM members.

“Everybody just responded perfectly,” United Airlines Warehouse and Distribution Senior Manager Bienvenido Brea said.

“Even though we still don’t know what the eventual outcome of this will be, this was the best response any of us could have hoped for.” Moreover, Brea promised to try and work with the Red Cross, because he wanted the Storekeepers’ actions to be recognized, and to serve as a model for other airline employees. “We want to tell more people about how important CPR training is,” Brea said.

He also underscored the importance of keeping emergency contact information current, saying that there are often issues with contacting the next of kin in cases like this.

Local 811 Committee member Kevin Davis echoed the sentiments, saying “this is a textbook example of how we should all respond to an emergency. This is something that we will all use as an example going forward.”

“One thing that this experience has taught me,” Davis continued, “I was never CPR certified. I knew it was important, but I just never went through with taking the training. I have now decided to take the class. You just never know when this sort of thing might happen. You have to be able to help out in a situation where seconds count and lives are at stake.”

Kevin Davis wanted to stress how impressed he was with the five IAM Storekeepers that came together in support of their coworker. “There were five people that were critical in this situation. Every one of them played a vital role.”

For his part, Darrell Steele remains humble. “I was just following my training,” he said. “I understand what we all did, but that’s why we took the training.”

The United Airlines Hanger at IAH, as seen from the receiving area.

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