[4/19/21] CCPW operators respond to cyclist in need of help

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In Chelan County, it’s not unthinkable to seek out a country road that climbs above the foothills or snakes its way through a canyon. Many of us like to recreate off these roads for the solace they provide.

But if you suddenly find yourself in an emergency on one of these remote, cell-free roads, it may take a whole lot of luck – or a grader and a big red truck – for help to find its way to you.

Chelan County Public Works operators Earl Griffith and Curtis McClellan were in the right place at the right time recently when they came upon a stranded bicyclist in the midst of a medical emergency. The pair on April 5 was grading on Shady Pass, past Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park on Lake Chelan, when they came upon the cyclist.

Griffith, who has been with public works for 15 years, was headed up to the dirt section of the remote roadway in a county grader when he passed the cyclist making his way up the steep road. When Griffith headed back down, where he met McClellan driving a county truck, the two noticed the bicyclist now laying on the side of the road.

“I figured he was resting,” Griffith said.

Waving his yellow safety vest at the men, the cyclist called out that he needed their help. He was experiencing a burning sensation in his chest and numbness in his left arm. He had no way to contact help, as there is no cell service on the pass.

Trained in first aid and CPR, Griffith and McClellan stepped in. McClellan, who has been with public works for five years, immediately called for help on his truck radio. Back in Wenatchee, the road supervisor heard the call come in and made calls to RiverCom and the cyclist’s wife.

It would take about 30 minutes before an ambulance from Chelan was able to reach the group on Shady Pass. In the meantime, Griffith and McClellan watched over the cyclist, ready to intervene with CPR if needed. They asked him questions about his past medical history and for his driver’s license in case the cyclist was to lose consciousness, McClellan said.

“We stayed with him and made sure he was comfortable and warm,” Griffith said.

All crew members at public works complete first aid and CPR training on a bi-annual basis. Crews often see car accidents when working, but this is the first time either Griffith or McClellan has come upon a citizen experiencing a medical emergency. The men agreed that they relied on their training that day on Shady Pass. As for the bicyclist, he was recovering at home.

“Our crews are trained in first aid and CPR for just this kind of situation,” said Kermit McClellan, foreman of the Chelan District. “Their training alerted Earl and Curtis to the seriousness of this issue and their fast action probably saved this gentleman’s life.”

Courtesy of Chelan County Public Works Blog