UA Local 597 member uses CPR training to save a life

UA Local 597 member uses CPR training to save a life

Chris Ingram and other Local 597 members.

On July 20, 2023, Chris Ingram, a 13-year member of Pipefitters Local 597, was on the United Piping, Inc. Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) pipeline project in Valparaiso, Ind., when a local laborer fell unconscious. 

Ingram immediately jumped in and started performing CPR until the paramedics arrived, ultimately saving the man’s life. He explained what happened that day. 

“I’m the Welder Foreman over the stations, so I see all four stations throughout the day,” he said. “We were setting up a crane in front of the station and me and a couple of helpers were getting the crane mats set up. There’s a crew of laborers and operators on site, too, and I looked back to see where my guys were, and I noticed they were huddling around. I didn’t know what was going on, and one of my welders called me and said, ‘Hey, there’s a guy down over here.’” 

Ingram quickly ran over and saw that it was a gentleman who had only been working with his crew for about two days, so no one really knew him. The man was out cold on the ground and wasn’t breathing. 

“When I showed up, the Laborers Foreman, Josh Hanna, was on the phone with 911,” Ingram said. “He was doing CPR on him already, and I could tell he’d been doing it for a while, so I took over and let him talk to 911 on the phone.”

Ingram said he continued doing CPR while the 911 operator talked him through it on the phone. 

“I’m certified in CPR, but none of us do it every day, so it was scary and he still wasn’t breathing,” Ingram said. 

An operator onsite, Clint Nelson, was squeezing his hand to see if he could feel a pulse. They were checking his pulse on his neck, but there was no pulse. 

“911 was on the way, but every minute felt like 15 minutes,” Ingram said. “We just kept pumping him full of CPR. We worked on him for 12 minutes before the first responders showed up.”

By performing CPR, Ingram was able to get the laborer breathing for a second.

“It was crazy,” Ingram said. “Nobody was negative, and nobody doubted him. We were just trying to get him back.”

When the EMT arrived, he told Ingram to continue performing CPR while he got the AED machine set up. 

Ingram said when they finally got the AED on him, it brought him back for half a second, but overall, his condition didn’t change, so he continued doing CPR. Then, the EMT used the AED again, and it seemed like that’s what brought him back. 

The crew onsite helped the paramedics get him on a stretcher and into the ambulance. A couple of hours later, the crew got a call saying he was up and talking in the hospital.

Four weeks later, the man who collapsed came to a safety meeting to thank the entire crew for what they did to save his life. He told the crew he went into cardiac arrest due to blockage in his arteries and will be getting surgery soon to have a stint put in. 

“It is amazing that it saved him,” Ingram said. “I think the coolest thing for us, myself, the laborer foreman who started CPR and then the operator who was helping us, was to see him come back and talk. It was, without a doubt, a team effort. That day, we had at least 10 UA guys onsite between welders, journeymen and helpers.” 

Safety training saves lives 

Ingram encourages everyone to take CPR training, saying it gives you the confidence to jump in and do it. 

Every winter, United Piping, the contractor on the jobsite, offers CPR and AED training to all its Foremen. Ingram’s most recent training was in January 2023. 

“I can’t thank them enough for allowing us to take that training and encouraging us to take that training,” Ingram said. 

Ingram carries an AED in his truck now. 

“It’s not something that’s required on these sites, but I would say that’s what really brought him back,” he said. “They’ve all told us that working on him for 12 minutes is what saved his life and got him to the point where he could get the AED.”

Later that day, Ingram reached out to UA supervision and discussed how important CPR training is and suggested adding it and other lifesaving skills to the apprenticeship program. 

“What’s one more day of training?” he asked. “I think it’s a great thing for a two- or three-hour class that could save somebody’s life one day. I encourage it to be trained to apprentices. That’s what separates the union from the non-union, the unbelievable training that we get and CPR training can be just another thing we add to our training.”