The “Never Quit” attitude of AFSCME members was on full display in the Town of Ellington, Connecticut, when the heroic actions of three Department of Public Works employees saved the life of their colleague Shawn Bull earlier this year.
The day started normally for Bull, a DPW employee and member of AFSCME Local 1303-009, but soon veered into disaster when he lost control of his high-powered chop saw on June 10. The saw kicked back, sliced Bull’s neck open and severed his carotid artery and jugular vein.
Thankfully, his crew partners and fellow union members Rich Daugherty, Dennis Giroux and Ron Moser moved swiftly and decisively to save Bull’s life.
Moser grabbed Bull’s neck and applied pressure to the wound while alerting Daugherty and Giroux to get help. Giroux called 911 and urged that a LifeStar helicopter be dispatched.
Daugherty, the local union steward and an Army medic in the first Gulf War, put his training to immediate use.
“I didn’t want to remember Shawn under a sheet,” he said.
With his co-worker in danger of bleeding out, Daugherty pinched the severed vein and artery in Bull’s neck. That proved to be the difference between life and death in the eight minutes it took for LifeStar and emergency medical service personnel to arrive on the scene.
“Everything was lined up to go wrong, but everything ended up right for Shawn to still be here,” Daugherty said.
Four months later, Bull still bears the scars of his injury. He is grateful to be alive and present in the lives of his wife Rachel and their two young daughters.
“I have a second chance at life,” Bull observed. “I won’t ever be the same, but I can live with what I’ve got.”
On Sept. 12, state and local officials – including Ellington First Selectman Lori Spielman, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, state Sens. Saud Anwar and Daniel Champagne, and State Rep. Chris Davis – honored the Ellington DPW employees involved in the June 10 accident.
“It’s an example of how seemingly ordinary people do extraordinary things,” said Bysiewicz as she presented Daugherty, Giroux and Moser with their proclamations from Gov. Ned Lamont.
“You have the back of each other,” Anwar added. “That is inspiring.”
The recognition ceremony left Local 1303-009 President Josh Hebert, a DPW employee, brimming with pride and gratitude.
“You never think something like this will happen," Hebert reflected. “There’s a brotherhood in our department that showed itself in the strongest colors possible that day. It’s an amazing story.”