When Dave Bennett went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the grounds of Harbor Island’s Vigor Shipyard in mid-November, two men and an automated external defibrillator (AED) came to his rescue.

On Wednesday, Bennett, the assistant engineer for the Washington State Ferry Puyallup, met his rescuers for the first time, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Besheer and Vigor Safety Manager Billy Ray Brittain.

Bennett says he doesn’t remember anything until his third or fourth day in the hospital. He says he never had any of the usual symptoms before.

Both Bennett and Besheer were at the shipyard working on their respective vessels when Bennett went into cardiac arrest. Besheer quickly spotted Bennett and began chest compressions as the call for help went out.

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Brittain grabbed an AED from the safety office and applied the shock within about two minutes. Seattle firefighters were able to take over when they arrived several minutes later.

The event again proves that training and the availability of AED technology in the workplace, at schools, and even at home can save lives.

King County EMS says an AED can double or triple the chances of survival. Learning how to use an AED is quick and simple as the machine’s onboard computer can tell if the person is in cardiac arrest and whether a shock is required to get a person’s heart back to a regular beat.

The AED is part of the training and safety culture at both Vigor Industrial and aboard Washington State Ferries (WSF). The shipyard has four AEDs on site, and each ferry carries several.

Both Petty Officer Besheer and Safety Manager Brittain were presented with WSF’s Life Ring Award, which is generally reserved for WSF employees whose actions save a life. This is the second time the award has been given to a person outside the organization in 2018.

WSF crewmembers have responded to 88 emergencies just in 2018 alone.

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