Laborers Local 42 members used their union-provided CPR training to save worker who collapsed at job site


LABORERS LOCAL 42 Journeyman Zachary Hurt (left) and Apprentice Kevin (Austin) Kent (right) relied on the training they received from Local 42 to provide CPR to co-worker Jeff Schobernd, 63, a 26-year member of the union, when he suffered a heart attack on the job site. – Labor Tribune photos

When Jeff Schobernd collapsed from a heart attack in January while working on the Wedge Innovation Center at the former Wedge Bank building in Alton, Ill., it was the training and quick thinking of his union brothers with Laborers Local 42 that allowed him to make it home to his family.

Journeyman Zachary Hurt, a four-year member of Local 42 and a veteran, and Kevin (Austin) Kent, a first-year apprentice, were on the job that day doing demolition work and knew what to do.

“Our apprentices all receive CPR instruction as part of their training,” said Brandon Flinn, business manager of The Missouri-Kansas Laborers’ District Council (MKLDC) and business manager/secretary-treasurer of Local 42. “It’s part of what we do to ensure our members are prepared to work safely and provide medical assistance if necessary on the jobsite. We’re proud of Zach and Austin for their quick thinking and putting their training to use to save their co-worker. Their actions exemplify the meaning of union Brotherhood.  Jeff’s family and the paramedics have told us he wouldn’t have made it if his union brothers hadn’t been there to help him.”

Hurt was the first to notice when Schobernd collapsed while unloading a gondola into a dumpster on the job site.

“Pretty much I was just at the right place at the right time,” he said. “We were standing out by the dumpster and my co-worker Jeff was walking up the hill, from around the left side of the building coming up the hill. He was unloading his gondola into the dumpster, and he was backing out. It looked to me like he tripped and fell, but that’s obviously not what happened. He fell and rolled over on his side and hit his head on the concrete.

“I immediately called 911 and the guy that was with me ran inside and got Austin and Adam Miller, another Local 42 laborer, and everyone else came with him.”

Kent had completed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training in September as part of his apprentice training at the Laborers-AGC Training Center in High Hill, Mo.

“He was checking his pulse and I was still on the phone with 911 and they started doing CPR right then and there,” Hurt said. “They had me count his breaths and I had to tell them if he could breath. They pulled his shirt up to see if his stomach was moving at the same time. I stayed on the phone with them until the paramedics got there.”

Kent was working away from the rest of the crew but was right inside the door when the crisis unfolded.

“I was so lucky I was next to the door so they could get my attention,” Kent said. “I came out and he was just unresponsive. Every once in a while he would take a deep breath but he had no pulse. So I started doing CPR. You can’t do CPR yourself for very long, so I had a couple guys switch in. They didn’t know CPR but I was able to kind of walk them through it. It felt really fast. We probably were only doing CPR or three or four minutes before the ambulance arrived.”

Those three or four minutes made the difference between life and death.

Honestly, we thought he was gone,” Hurt said. “When he was getting his chest compressions, that’s when he would take his breaths, but apparently that’s what actually saved his life from what the hospital said. His nephew works with us there too and that’s what they said at the hospital and what the doctors at the other hospital said too, that if we wouldn’t have done that he definitely would have been gone.”

Schobernd was also at the right place at the right time. It was his first day on the job site, Kent said. He had only been there for three hours when he collapsed.

“I’m very thankful those guys were there,” said Schobernd, 63, a Local 42 member since 1996, working for Crossroads Construction Services, Inc. “They saved my life.”

Hurt and Kent both recommend anyone with an opportunity to get CPR certified to take the training.

“Obviously if you can take a class, you should,” Kent said. “CPR is required for Laborers Local 42 apprentices, but all of the classes at High Hill are offered for journeymen as well. If you want to, you can go and get certified. I definitely wouldn’t have known what to do without it. I would have done something, but probably not what was needed.”

Kent said one thing the training prepared him for was knowing what to expect once he started chest compressions.

“I knew at the time that I was breaking Jeff’s ribs. They say that you’re supposed to, and he did have three broken ribs. But if you didn’t know that and you’re pushing on his chest and you hear that, it doesn’t feel right,” he said.

“When you’re taking the class, you don’t ever think that you’re going to have to do it.”

At the bare minimum, Kent said, Google CPR to get an idea of how it’s done.

Bad CPR is better than no CPR,” he said. “A little of something is better, just know what’s supposed to happen.”

Hurt said you never know when you’re going to need to use CPR.

If you don’t know it, you need to know it,” he said. “You could find yourself in a situation like what happened that day, and it’s good to know it – even if you think you might never use it.”


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