Skip directly to content

Safety Training and Fast Actions Save a Life

Employees facing a life-threatening situation with a coworker used their safety training to provide a quick and proper response. Left to right at top: Welder Cass Ellwood,Trackman Chris Thompson and Welder Matt Penhale. Above: The beneficiary of the men's life-sustaining assistance: Dan Ginter.

It was a workday like so many others for PNR RailWorks’ Dan Ginter as he led a track maintenance crew at the Richardson International grain handling facility at the Port of Vancouver in North Vancouver, BC. As he’d done many times before, Dan, a Pacific Region employee for 10+ years and foreman on this job, was on track operating a hydraulic tamper.

Suddenly, Dan began to feel quite ill. He went to his truck to rest, and was there no more than a few minutes before he began to experience chest and arm pain – universally recognized signs of a heart attack.

An employee never wants to face such a situation, but it’s times like these that make it all too clear why safety training is so essential. Because of annual first aid training, Dan knew not to wait but to signal a teammate for help; his teammates knew to immediately apply all they had learned.

Dan was able to get the attention of Welder Matt Penhale, who quickly sought out Chris Thompson, a trackman trained at Level 3 in Canada Occupational First Aid (OFA). When Chris got to Dan, Dan was on the ground. Chris sent Welder Cass Ellwood rushing to the truck for a first aid kit while calling Richardson staff, who made the 911 call and directed responders to the work site. Dan was conscious but unable to answer questions. While Chris checked Dan’s vital signs, Cass and Matt grabbed coats and a tent from their truck to cover Dan and protect him from the rain and cold. Soon, a Richardson International first aid team appeared with a blanket and oxygen to stabilize Dan until paramedics could get to the scene.

When they arrived, paramedics complimented those caring for Dan for their quick and correct actions. They transported Dan by ambulance to the local hospital. Medical personnel there found a complete blockage in a main artery and operated to install a stent.

Within four hours after the incident, Dan was in the recovery room, and not many days later was out of the hospital and recovering at his home. He and his team had initiated a series of what at our company are hailed as “RailWorks Great Works” — which in this instance were not just great, but ultimately were lifesaving.