Coworkers help save Corey Sims life at Majona
The morning of Sept. 24 started out like any other day at Majona Steel Corporation.
It was the start of the work week, and things were progressing normally. However, by that afternoon, everything had changed.
One man's life was on the line, and it would be up to his coworkers to help keep him alive.
Corey Sims, 34, a finisher at Majona, had a heart attack while at work.
"They came in to tell me someone was sick in the shop and I needed to come out there," said Kathy Ferguson, safety manager at Majona. "As soon as I stepped out the door, then Jay, the one that Corey had talked to earlier in the day, said, 'It's Corey. He wasn't feeling well. I think he's having a heart attack.' So, we instructed Jay to call 9-1-1 and get the ambulance on the way."
Ferguson later heard Sims hadn't been feeling well all day and had gone to the hospital for chest pains the previous week. He hadn't gotten the test results, yet.
Sims' brother Casey also works at Majona and knew he wasn't feeling well. The family has a history of heart illness.
Sims was unconscious when Ferguson was brought to his side. He had collapsed under a pipe rack and had to be pulled out.
That's when training started to kick in for Ferguson and fellow employees Bion Ingram and Rainer Hildebrand.
Their immediate response was to perform CPR on Sims.
Ferguson started CPR and noticed Sims was trying to take breaths every once in awhile.
"I knew from my last CPR class ... they don't worry about giving the breaths, you just do the compressions," she said. "So, I just kept doing compressions until I finally wore out."
That's when Ingram started doing compressions. Ferguson started talking to Sims, even though he was unconscious.
Ferguson said she knew Sims had to get air into his body, especially his brain. Every time she would slap his face, he would take a breath.
After Ingram finished with compressions, Hildebrand stepped in.
"I've taken CPR classes for over 20 years, but I've never actually done CPR on a person," Ferguson said, "and I didn't realize how fast you really can wear out doing that."
Hildebrand was doing CPR on Sims when the ambulance arrived. Sims' heart had to be shocked.
He was eventually put into an air ambulance and transported to Des Moines.
Ferguson was later informed one of Sims' arteries was 100 percent blocked, and a stint had to be put into it.
She was told Sims would be put into an intensive-care unit to lower his body temperature and put him into a coma for 24 hours.
"They said, 'At that point, we don't' know until he wakes up. Physically, he's doing fine, and his heart's beating. His blood pressure, everything is fine,'" Ferguson said. "But, they never know until they wake up to see, you know, did he get enough oxygen to his brain?"
Sims had a heart attack on a Monday afternoon. He woke up in intensive care Wednesday.
Ferguson remembers he was laughing and talking with people.
However, the earliest memories of the incident for Sims were waking up Wednesday at the hospital. He doesn't remember being at work or having the heart attack.
"It was like it never happened," Sims said of the heart attack or how he physically feels now.
Sims does have to take pills for his medical condition. It only took two weeks for Sims to return to work.
According to Ferguson, keeping oxygen to Sims' brain, and making sure he breathed during CPR helped him during the incident.
Another thing that saved Sims' life was the employee response. Ferguson said everyone who gave CPR to Sims had taken the appropriate classes.
"You don't think about it, I guess," she said. "You go through these classes all the time, and then, when something happens, I guess there's something down in there. The training just kind of comes out."
Ferguson said everybody worked well together to help, but doesn't know if it was training or luck.
A lot of factors had to come together for Sims to get the proper medical response he needed.
There was no hesitation to call an ambulance and start CPR, even though Sims is 34, and the first thought of illness for a person of that age might not be a heart attack.
It helped that Sims had family and coworkers who knew he wasn't feeling well during the day and had previously gone in for heart tests.
Ferguson said safety in the workplace is important, especially for the three people who performed CPR on Sims.
"You have that training ... even though we hadn't had that training together, we all kind of knew what to do," she said. "You know, open his airway, get him breathing and just keep up the compressions."
When asked if he thought his coworkers helped save his life, Sims replied, "I know it did. That's what the doctors up there told me, 'If it weren't for them, you wouldn't be here.'"
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