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A Friend Never Quits on a Friend, or a Co-Worker. That’s Why He’s a Hero

A co-worker’s fall on the ice could have been tragic, but Minnesota AFSCME member Dan Johnson’s quick thinking ensured his friend and co-worker got the help he needed – when he needed it the most.
A Friend Never Quits on a Friend, or a Co-Worker. That’s Why He’s a Hero
By Clyde Weiss ·
A Friend Never Quits on a Friend, or a Co-Worker. That’s Why He’s a Hero
Left to right: Dan Johnson and Gordy Boldt, members of Red Wing, Minnesota Local 737 (Council 65) (Johnson family photo)

The snow had fallen 9 inches in Red Wing, Minn., on Feb. 24. At the city’s wastewater treatment plant, snow packed down by vehicles had become “glare ice,” said Dan Johnson, an assistant wastewater treatment operator who also goes by D.J.

A member of AFSCME Local 737 (Council 65), D.J. was out in that snow and ice along with his co-workers, including Gordy Boldt, a utility operator in his early 60s, and former president of the local.

When Boldt’s plow truck got stuck in the snow and ice, D.J. and a seasonal worker called Jason Key fetched a tractor to pull it out. That’s when Boldt walked down the driveway and slipped on the ice.

“He went straight down and slid like a board,” D.J. recalled. “Gordy jumps up, brushes off and swears it hurts.” 

Later, when Key congratulated Boldt for pulling the truck from the snow, Boldt said, “What truck?”

Key thought he was joking. But Boldt insisted that he hadn’t pulled a truck from the snow and then denied other events that had happened to him that morning. Exasperated, Key took Boldt to see D.J. and said, “You gotta talk to Gordy. Gordy can’t remember anything,”

“I go, seriously, tell me that you’re OK. Do you remember hitting your head? He says, ‘I never fell,’” D.J. said.

D.J. examined his friend’s head and eyes, looking for a neurological abnormality like dilated pupils. Sadly, he had experience in this area. His son had died of a neurological condition at the age of 7.

D.J. knew he needed to get his friend to the hospital fast. At the emergency room, a doctor diagnosed a concussion and said it was “really good we got him there as fast as we could,” D.J. said.

Released that night, Boldt did not return to work for about six days, and still has no memory of the events of that snowy day. But he’s back to normal and jokes about forgetting to do this or that, D.J. said.

Dedication to your job and your community is also about being dedicated to your co-workers and workplace safety. By making sure his co-worker got the attention he needed, D.J. displayed a never quit attitude. His story demonstrates yet again why we say AFSCME members never quit – not on their community, not on their jobs and not on their co-workers.

Never Quit Service Awards

D.J. said he just did what needed to be done. He was really surprised to learn that Paul Drotos, an environmental officer for the city and a retired past president of Local 737, had nominated him for an AFSCME Never Quit Service Award.

“It’s a pretty tight-knit crew,” Drotos said of the wastewater plant workers. “We were all concerned and appreciative that D.J. did the right thing and got Gordy hospital care as soon as possible, which is the most important thing.”

D.J. said, “I wasn’t looking for recognition. I know if it was me, he would have done the same.” Nevertheless, he added, “It’s an honor.”

Do you know someone deserving of a Never Quit Service Award? Click here to nominate that AFSCME member.

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