October 03, 2018

Kentucky Power Servicer Aids Co-Worker Facing Medical Emergency

As a servicer, Mark Elkins covers a familiar, but vast territory. He can go weeks without visiting the same communities. So when he found himself working in Salyersville, KY around lunchtime one day and spotted a Kentucky Power truck parked alongside the road, he thought he might get a co-worker to join him for lunch.

Instead, he became a hero when he found Pikeville technician Josh Smith collapsed on the ground by his truck in desperate need of medical attention. Elkins has received the American Electric Power Hero award for his efforts in assisting Smith.

Smith, 30, was suffering from a medical condition that caused internal bleeding. When he started feeling discomfort, he pulled his truck off the road, where he got physically sick, collapsed and started to lose blood. He was able to call 911, but was so disoriented he could not describe his location to emergency services. When Elkins found him, he was semi-conscious and hidden by tall weeds so passing motorists had no idea he was experiencing a medical emergency.

“As I lay on the ground praying, I started to feel better and thought that I could drive to a gas station near my location, maybe wash my face and everything would be good again,” Smith said. “When I stood up, I began to feel dizzy and held on to the door of the truck, and the longer I stood the weaker I got.”

Smith looked at the ground where he was sitting and noticed blood. He knew driving wasn’t an option, so he laid down again and used his cell phone to call 911.

“As I was lying on the ground praying, God placed a peace over me and the next thing I know Mark is there to help,” Smith said. “…Mark walks around the truck…took over and was able to give directions to our location. He followed the ambulance to the hospital and stayed with me until my wife arrived.”

Elkins said he is humbled by the Hero Award and dismisses any praise for helping a co-worker.

“I was just at the right place at the right time,” Elkins said. “It was a bad situation and the bottom line is we got him the help he needed. I’m not in this area every day. I believe that I was guided that way.”

Kentucky Power President Matt Satterwhite, however, disagrees and said Elkins’ actions are worthy of praise.

“Had Mark not been there to help Josh, there is no telling if anyone would have stopped and if Josh would be with us today,” Satterwhite said. “Josh needed to get to the hospital for his internal condition and could have sustained injuries in the catatonic state he was in on the side of the road with oncoming traffic. Mark prevented a life-threatening situation from becoming even more critical.” 

Elkins’ actions aiding a co-worker in need follow a 2016 incident when Elkins found a young child about to enter a busy street without any adult in the area. He called authorities and waited for their arrival to ensure the child’s safety. 

“Mark again demonstrated the best in Kentucky Power’s employee family, by being his brother’s keeper, by staying alert and by looking to serve others,” Satterwhite said.

Elkins says he’ll never forget either incident, nor will he forget the first visit with Smith after he was admitted to the hospital.

“First thing I saw was his wife, Tasha,” Elkins said. “She was naturally thanking me. I appreciated it, but I told her when I walked in this door and saw his smile, that’s what was important.”

Both Smith and Elkins say their safety training at Kentucky Power helped them know how to respond in an emergency situation.

“As soon as I saw Josh, I knew it was out of my hands so I dialed 911,” Elkins, a 15-year AEP employee, said. “I didn’t panic. There was no use for me to ask a lot of questions. That would have just delayed things. My advice is if a situation is out of your hands, get help. Don’t waste time.”

Smith joined Kentucky Power in 2013. He said safety training helped him make the decision to not drive out of concern for others.

“Safety is in everything we do,” Smith said. “Knowing that I wasn’t okay and needed assistance, all came from the safety training that I have been exposed to as an employee at AEP.”


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