GE Aviation’s Purpose Statement isn’t just about the customer; it recently came into action to help a GE Aviation employee survive a deadly heart attack.
March 26, 2018 was a typical Monday morning for Senior Materials Planning & Execution Manager Bill Peterson that quickly turned into the worst, but luckiest day of his life.
He suffered a widow-maker heart attack, where the heart has total blockage in one of the main arteries. Typically, one only has a two to three percent chance of survival in the best circumstances. Thankfully, with the teamwork and care of everyone involved, Bill survived and returned to work on July 5, 2018.
Around 8 a.m. Bill and his co-workers Todd Fisher, Lead Materials Planning and Execution Specialist for LEAP-1A, and Greg Olson, Configuration Platform Leader for LEAP-1B, were going about their daily routine, when Todd heard a loud thud from Bill’s glass-encased desk. He went over to check and make sure everything was alright, and found Bill laying on his back on the ground, struggling to breathe. Todd began yelling for help, which grabbed the attention of Greg, who ran into the office to discover the scene. The two of them, who were both trained in CPR, began feeling for a pulse, but couldn’t find anything. Greg then began to do chest compressions, while Todd stayed near Bill’s head to monitor his breathing. They also called for help.
Due to GE Aviation’s Evendale facility’s unique capability of the on-site Evendale Plant Protection Fire Team, fire inspectors Brian Kegley, Kevin Corn, Rich Moeckel, and Adam Morath were on the scene in an impressive 2 minutes and 45 seconds. The Plant Protection Fire Team worked as a well-oiled machine, with each member supporting the steps needed for the crisis at hand. One Inspector checked vital signs, one accessed the AED, while another started CPR compressions on the patient. The Inspectors worked as a group to create the safest, quickest and most effective medical assistance possible. In this situation, the GE Aviation Fire Team, knew that their partners, the Village of Evendale Fire/EMS/Rescue Squad would be only steps behind them—as luck would have it, they were on site for a regularly scheduled facility tour. That type of response leads to the fluid union of two great teams of First Responders working together to the benefit of the patient.
After four shocks with a defibrillator, Bill was transferred to Bethesda North, where he had six stints placed in his heart, and then to Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital, where a newly developed surgery took place. This story isn’t about the miracle performed by the doctors and nurses, it’s about the excellence of GE employees.
For many companies, a vision statement might just appear on a website or a conference room wall, but at GE Aviation, Purpose is reflected in every aspect of the culture.
Everyone worked together to bring Bill home safely the day of the attack. His survival is a direct result of the efforts of everyone involved. Without the quick actions of Greg and Todd performing CPR, Bill would not have survived until the EMTs arrived. Without the EMTs, Bill might not have even gotten to the hospital. Steele Gorrell, Plant Protection Security Leader, also noted that “even people who claimed to have done nothing were still instrumental in Bill’s survival. For the Plant Protection Team and the Fire Department to get to his desk, someone needed to contact the emergency number, swipe the card reader, hold open a door, point responders in the right direction, keep the area clear for access to Bill, and the list goes on. In an emergency, timing is everything, and without this direction, the medical assistance could have been delayed. The actions of his office coworkers, no matter how small, truly played a huge part in Bill’s survival.”
Bill’s GE family continued to lift him up even outside of the office. Jim Donley, Lead Materials Planning & Execution Specialist, Bill’s neighbor and co-worker, drove to Bill’s home to tell his wife Jo-Anne the news after the incident, and even drove her to the hospital that day to be with her husband. Bill’s manager, Elliott Liddle, Supply Chain Planning and S&OP Supply Leader, organized bringing dinners made by co-workers to his family while he was still in the hospital. Jim drove these dinners to Bill’s home, along with the countless flowers and cards from other GE employees. The whole office came together to support Bill, and anxiously awaited updates from Jim. When good news finally came, the energy and morale of the office was brought up significantly.
Bill and everyone involved truly represent GE Aviation’s values. Bill and his family held a thank-you reception at the Christ Hospital building to show gratitude to everyone who played a part in his survival. Everyone at the reception was so humbled and grateful for the recognition, especially the EMTs and nurses. Bill thanked everyone for what they did to save his life. He was amazed by everything that people did, namely that “there was no ego that got in the way. Everyone worked together and did what was right to make sure I survived.” The nurses and doctors talked about how fantastic it was to see someone they saved walking around so soon after a major surgery. Elliott spoke about this situation exemplifying how GE Aviation’s Purpose is a part of everyday life working here, and means more than just a tagline.
Even now, when Bill is safely on the path to recovery, people continue to support him. Because of how instrumental CPR was to his survival, Bill wishes to take a class so he can help others if the need arises. To show their support, 30 of his co-workers took a CPR class offered by GE on June 5. In Todd’s words,
“I had taken a CPR class in the past, so I thought I knew the mechanics. But, after the incident I wish I had taken the class a week before. The technique has changed so much that I believe it’s important to stay up-to-date on everything.” For example, previously, the training required a check for a pulse before beginning CPR, but now the technique includes beginning CPR right away if you suspect the person needs it, as it is possible to feel your own pulse accidentally. Staying up-to-date by taking a class every few years can save a life.
Bill hopes that his situation will encourage even those outside of his office to consider taking CPR. “I want there to be more people who know CPR so that everyone can feel safe if they ever have a situation like mine. I want everyone to be able to save a life.”