EEI > Delivering The Future
Duke Lineworkers Save Florida Man’s Life
March 2017

​Four Duke Energy lineworkers are being hailed as heroes in Florida after saving a man’s life while on the job. 

Justin Barr, Chris Damewood, Jesse Ginley, and Stephen Shaffer were responding to maintenance calls in Homosassa when they noticed 60 year-old Robert Olsen lying on the road experiencing a heart attack. Olsen and his fiancée, Risé, were driving down the street when he began to slouch and veer off the road. With his foot on the break, the car stopped and Risé removed him from the driver’s seat to begin administering CPR when she saw Damewood running toward her.

“I checked for the pulse, there was no pulse, he wasn’t breathing,” said Damewood. “I told her I know AED, I know CPR, is it okay if I take over.”

Damewood, who has worked at Duke Energy for 14 years, estimates he has taken CPR training classes as many as eight times, but never had to use his training prior to assisting Olsen.

Apprentice lineworker Justin Barr then ran up with the automated external defibrillator (AED), which Duke Energy stores in each of its trucks. Together, he and Damewood hooked the AED to Olsen and followed the instructions to deliver an electric shock to the chest and into his heart.

“After the shock, his eyes closed and he had a weak pulse,” Damewood said. “He was starting to breath.”

Damewood continued administering CPR until emergency responders arrived on scene and took control.

Olsen spent a week recovering in the hospital but was able to reunite and personally thank the crew and Duke, “I got to thank Duke Energy too for training you guys and carrying the defibrillators, because if you
guys didn’t have it, if you didn’t have the training and the defibrillator, I’d be dead,” Olsen said.

Often, lineworkers are the first on scene and play a pivotal role in contacting emergency responders. This is just one example of how their education and standard practices are essential to the community and used for much more than their daily jobs.

An original version of this story appeared on WFLA and Duke Energy’s Illumination.