By Gordon Williams
The story begins on October 19, 2018 when a cardiac condition dropped Stan Runyon unconscious to the floor of the Boeing plant in Everett, WA. It ends with four Boeing employees being given Red Cross Lifesaving Awards for using their Red Cross training in CPR to bring Runyon back to life.
Two lines from the award nomination document show how close a call it was.
“Did the victim show signs of life when emergency personnel arrived?” The answer is “no.”
“Did the victim survive?” The answer is “yes.”
The award document points out that the four rescuers were fellow employees of the victim, not paid emergency first responders. “Did the nominees have a duty to respond?” the document asks. The answer is “no.” Seeing someone in distress, they rushed in to help.
Finally, the document asks what Red Cross training skills were used during the incident. The primary life-saving skill was knowing how to apply Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Beyond that, the Red Cross teaches the need to act calmly and rationally in a crisis — to call 911 and to provide what care can be provided until professional help arrives on the scene.
So, who are the award winners and how and why did they seek out the Red Cross training that saved Stan Runyon’s life?
First, there is Craig Chapman of Marysville, WA, the recipient of a Red Cross Certificate of Merit award. Chapman, who builds closets for Boeing 787 jets, was working alongside Runyon in the closet shop of the Boeing plant. Seeing Runyon fall to the floor, Chapman used his Red Cross CPR training to begin chest compressions aimed at restoring a heartbeat.
Chapman says he had two reasons for taking the Red Cross training. Early in his days at Boeing, he saw an employee die of heart failure because no one on the scene knew how to apply CPR. “That was my motivation,” Chapman says. “When I was offered a chance to sign up for CPR training, I said ‘sure.’”
But Chapman also has a more personal reason for the training — a history of heart disease in his extended family. Neither his father nor an uncle made it past 65. “That made me want to learn how to help other people,” he says.
Another winner of a Certificate of Merit award is Gordon Halverson of Camano Island, WA. He, too, saw Runyon fall to the closet shop floor. While Chapman started CPR, Halverson called 911 to bring emergency services to the scene. While the responders from Boeing’s in-house fire department were in route, Halverson relayed instructions to Chapman. “They were instructing me over the phone, and I was relaying the information to Craig,” he says.
“The situation was pretty intense, and we weren’t sure he was going to make it,” Halverson says. “But I kept on calling out, and I could see that what Craig was doing was really helping. I could see how effective the CPR was. I could see color coming back into Stan’s face with each compression.”
CPR training was mandatory when Halverson first started at Boeing. But he had already decided that CPR was a good thing to know, and had taken the training while working at a Seattle-area shipyard.
The third winner of a Certificate of Merit is Albert Bryant of Lynnwood, WA. The award nomination document says that, “When emergency services arrived, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Halverson helped guide the aid car to the scene.”
Finally, Daron Acton of Everett, WA is the winner of a Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action. Says the nomination document, “As Mr. Chapman grew tired from administering chest compressions, Mr. Acton was there to take over and give Mr. Chapman a break.”
So, a story that nearly began with a tragedy turned out to have a happy ending. The skills gained in Red Cross lifesaving training paid off big-time by actually saving a life that otherwise might have been lost. “Our training certainly did pay off,” says Craig Chapman. “You never know when you might have to use your training to save a life.”