Joshua Crites said he was thinking about his own family when he administered first aid to a 3-year-old boy suffering a seizure last summer.

Oak Ridge, Tenn., Local 270 members Joshua Crites, left, and Chris Farrar, second from left, were two of the four IBEW members who came to the aid of a young boy suffering a seizure near the Kingston (Tenn.) fossil plant last summer. Also pictured are pipefitters union members Jesse Hardt, Westley Lester and Maurice Johnson, who also assisted during the incident.

“I held the kid all the way through it,” said Crites, a member of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Local 270. “My son is 3 years old and it kind of hit home. We kept telling him he was going to be OK.”

The actions of Crites and fellow Local 270 members Chris Farrar and Dusty Taylor along with Atlanta Local 613 member Sylvan Darquenne stabilized the boy’s condition after he went into convulsions following a spike in his fever. The incident occurred when the men were working as subcontractors at the Tennessee Valley Authority-owned Kingston (Tenn.) fossil plant last August.

“Because of the training we received through the IBEW, we were able to do something and help the kid out,” Farrar said.

The four had finished lunch at a food truck near the plant and were getting ready to return to work when a woman approached asking for help. She had been watching the child while his mother stopped in a nearby Walgreens to pick up her son’s prescription to treat flu-like symptoms.

Crites ran to the store to find the mother while Farrar, Taylor and Darquenne followed the woman to her car to assist with the child. Farrar noticed the boy had swallowed his tongue and pulled it out to allow him to breathe. Taylor called 911.

Crites had the mother paged by store workers. He escorted her to the car, where she took Taylor’s phone and spoke to the dispatcher.

“The kid was burning up,” Crites said. “We found out later that was why he had the seizure. He had just gotten too hot. “

Crites got the boy out of his car seat and laid him on his side, something he learned in first aid training during his Local 270 apprenticeship. Young seizure victims often are held closely by adults, which can lead to injury and swallowing of the tongue. Instead, first-aid responders should make sure the victim can breathe properly, gently lay him onto the ground and allow the seizure to run its course, Crites said.

Three pipefitters who also were having lunch brought back wet towels to cool the boy off. Darquenne helped keep onlookers a safe distance away and directed emergency workers to the boy after they arrived.

“When we got him in the shade, you could tell he wasn’t as bad as we first thought he was,” Taylor said. “He started calming down and cooling off. He seized the whole time we were there. It just slowed down. I think we all had a little bit of a sigh of relief that it was coming down and not elevating and becoming worse.”

Crites estimated the entire incident took about eight minutes. He along with Farrar, Taylor and Darquenne all returned to work when paramedics arrived. They learned a couple days later the boy was doing fine and doctors didn’t expect any long-term repercussions. It turns out Crites’ wife is a high school classmate of the boy’s mother and a Facebook friend.

“He made a full recovery,” Crites said. “He’s a regular 3-year-old now.”

The four IBEW members were a little late in returning to work at the Kingston plant, where they were cleaning out old electrodes and installing new ones into the fly ash, the residue that is generated by coal combustion, said Crites, who was the crew’s foreman.

The IBEW and pipefitter union workers were recognized in a TVA newsletter, which was how Local 270 Business Manager Arlen Day found out about the incident. Crites, Farrar and Taylor never said a word about it to him, he said.

“They’re fine young men,” Day said. “They haven’t been around that long, but they’re really representing the IBEW well. We’re fortunate we’ve got so many like them, that do the right thing when they get in the real world.”

 Photo credit: Tennessee Valley Authority