Does safety training actually matter? Well, it helped me save a child’s life.

Over the course of the last 15 years, my career in engineering and construction has been a journey marked by growth and invaluable experiences. Working in these industries, I've come to appreciate and understand the paramount importance of safety.

CDB_WHQ_KCM_Usingsafetytrainingtosavealife_cam_and_family_Personalblog_942069Cam and his family.

At Burns & McDonnell, I’ve had the opportunity to work in the field on major projects supporting the power and the electrical transmission and distribution industries. Throughout my tenure, I’ve had the privilege to contribute to various projects, each leaving a mark on my professional journey. My career has been defined by working on project teams that successfully delivered electricity to individuals and families across Texas, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

However, it was the first-aid and CPR/AED training that I received as part of my safety training for construction sites and work zones that helped me during a life-altering experience.

The incident unfolded during a warm and sunny day at a casual pool party. We were gathered with friends and family. Amid the splashing and laughter, panic struck when a child, Cam, went underwater. Suddenly, the atmosphere shifted as Cam’s life hung in the balance when he was discovered unresponsive in the pool. I sprang from my chair to perform CPR for what felt like an eternity until Cam was revived.

Adhering to the established protocols learned in my professional capacity, I took immediate control of the scene. I shouted for someone to contact emergency services and directed bystanders to maintain a safe distance. With the assistance of my spouse, I commenced CPR and persisted until emergency services arrived.

CDB_WHQ_KCM_Usingsafetytrainingtosavealife_cam_at_hospital_Personalblog_942069Cam in recovery at the hospital. 

The emotional aftermath of the incident left an indelible mark on me. It reinforced the importance of safety training. Safety is a serious business, and this incident brings home the need to always take our safety protocols seriously. The incident prompted personal introspection, leading to a renewed commitment to vigilance and preparedness.

Reflecting on the incident, I realized the effectiveness of specific actions, such as alerting someone to call 911 and creating a calm environment in the chaos. While I don’t want anyone to live in fear, having basic training and being prepared for emergencies can make a huge difference. In this instance, it saved Cam’s life. I would recommend having a rotating responsibility among adults to watch children while at the pool or at the lake, especially as summer approaches.

CDB_WHQ_KCM_Usingsafetytrainingtosavealife_cam_at_swimming_lessons_Personalblog_942069Cam is participating in swim lessons to confront his fears and prevent potential emergencies.

As I reflect on my role in this incident, I remain humbled by how quickly a joyous afternoon can turn into an emergency, or even a tragedy. I hope that my experience can highlight the importance of safety training, especially CPR training, because it can make a huge difference on a work site — or at a fun gathering with family and friends. Witnessing Cam's recovery, now a happy, healthy, active child, underscores the critical impact of swift and informed action during emergencies.


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Josh Showalter has 15 years of experience leading projects in the power and gas markets. He is a project manager for pipeline services. Josh is also the proud recipient of the Blue Heart Safety Award, recognizing his steadfast commitment to the Burns & McDonnell Principle, "Safety is First." Previously, Josh served as an operations manager in transmission and distribution, overseeing a team of more than 40 professionals.