At the Shelby Electric Cooperative 81st Annual Meeting on Friday, the American Red Cross presented a group of Shelby Electric linemen with its top national award, including a certificate signed by the President of the United States.

On May 8, 2018, a group of linemen trained in American Red Cross Adult First Aid/CPR/AED helped save the life of one of their own, Kevin Carlen. Carlen suffered a heart attack and lost consciousness while doing pole top rescue training at Shelby Electric Cooperative in Shelbyville.

The American Red Cross, serving South Central Illinois, honored the following employees of Shelbyville Electric for bravery and quick action. Award recipients were Thad France, Cary Bryson, Nick Dunaway, Nick Sloan, Jerry Johnston, Jamie Sharp, Blake Knearem, Luke Brown, Andrew McDonald, Adam Schrock, Brian Chevalier, Jake Kull, Brad Wright and Lucas Morse.

The group of linemen were taking training and Carlen had just successfully finished his turn working with the training dummy.

"I took a couple steps down the pole and the next thing I know I am waking up in the hospital," said Carlen.

"He was probably on the pole for a minute," Nick Dunaway said. "We realized he wasn't joking," said Jerry Johnston.

One of the men called 911, and someone had gone immediately to retrieve an AED (automated external defibrillator) nearby while his co-workers began CPR.

"We had a bucket truck there and Cary Bryson was in the bucket," Dunaway said. "We tied a hand line on the pole and tied it around his chest under his arms and let him down. Jerry started doing chest compressions and a few guys gave him breaths."

The AED restarted Carlen's heart.

"He wasn't conscious until the AED was used," Johnston said.

The ambulance arrived and transported Carlen to the hospital. The group response took about 3 1/2 minutes.

The American Red Cross Boards of Directors, staff, volunteers and the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., cited the employees for their selfless and humane action in using life-saving skills learned through American Red Cross training.

"That's what the training is all about," Carlen said. "We never thought we'd have to use it. The amount of training we go through is phenomenal. We do it until it's almost like instinct."

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