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It was Safe Day at Sealed Air in Simpsonville, N.C., on the day that rollstock press operator Daryn Bryant took what could have been his final breath. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the employee-led Emergency Control Team (ECT) at SEE’s Simpsonville plant, Daryn is alive and able to share his story today.
The ECT is a group of employees who volunteer to complete a 48-hour emergency first responder training and serve as the first line of support to a co-worker in need.
Andrea Mattress, environmental health and safety coordinator at Simpsonville has been the ECT team leader for five of her 29 years at SEE and has seen her share of incidents during that time. She said, “Our team is trained in everything from how to do CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and handle biohazardous material to calming someone down who is having a panic attack or allergic reaction.” The current Simpsonville ECT is made up of 32 people who are EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) certified and equipped with an important set of skills that they can use at work as well as outside of work.
Allen Carroll, rollstock mounter, and Raymond Land, rollstock maintenance, are two long-time members of the Simpsonville ECT (serving 11 years and 27 years respectively) with a combined 66 years of service with SEE.
Land applied to join the ECT when he was a young dad. “I figured this was training that could come in handy for my family and at work,” he said. “I feel much better prepared to handle different situations that have come up through the years since I’ve kept up my certification.”
For Carroll, the motivation to get trained came when he witnessed a jet ski accident involving several young people who were seriously injured. He said, “When someone gets hurt in front of you and you know they need help, but you can’t do anything to help them…well, let’s just say you don’t want to feel that way again.” He joined the SEE’s ECT team right after that.
Once a year, the ECT members join teammates from other health and safety functions to host a booth as part of Safe Day—an employee engagement event focused on safety. The ECT has a booth each year to provide first response demonstrations and to invite others to learn more about joining the team. On June 9, 2022, Carroll was setting up to do CPR demos at Safe Day and Land was working in his department when they got a call that a member of the team, Bryant, needed support.
Land was first to respond followed by Carroll shortly after. Land took his vitals, which looked normal. They took Bryant to the plant nurse for further evaluation. The nurse took Bryant’s vitals, which were still normal. During the ten minutes that Bryant was being evaluated he said that his symptoms were going away. Bryant decided that he wanted to go home. The nurse recommended that he go get checked at the ER or urgent care. Carroll took Bryant back to their department. Bryant went to the press area to let his team performance lead know that he was going home and went to his locker. Carroll went to his work area where Doug Wharton asked if he had staples. Carroll went to his locker to get them and saw Bryant unconscious on the floor.
Carroll rushed to him; he saw Bryant take a final breath. Carroll immediately went into action. He put out an emergency call to the rest of the ECT team to send support and immediately began giving chest compressions. Land came soon after with an AED, or automated external defibrillator, used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The two continued with chest compressions and two shocks from the AED over the next 12 minutes until Greenville County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived and were able to take over.
Bryant had suffered what has come to be known as the “widowmaker,” a heart attack, caused by a 100 percent blockage of the left anterior descending artery. With this type of blockage, the heart can stop with little to no warning, and if a patient goes into cardiac arrest outside of the hospital, the survival rate is roughly six percent.
Over the next several hours, the team waited anxiously to hear news about their friend and co-worker.
“We all held hands and said a prayer. I had a sense of hope because of how the team responded, but I didn’t know for sure,” said Mattress. “We tried to keep it positive for everyone, but inside we really didn’t know.” Despite the traumatic incident, the team felt it was more important than ever to host Safety Day. Mattress said, “Allen still did his training. He had a very busy booth.”
Later that evening, the team finally received an update. “We were holding it together, but when we got the news that Daryn was stable, it was like a huge weight had lifted and we all were pretty emotional,” said Carroll.
While the details of the incident are foggy for Bryant, he simply said, “When I woke up the doctor said, ‘It’s a miracle I’m sitting here talking to you,’ and I knew he was right.”
Mattress said, “I could not be prouder of Allen and Raymond. Allen communicated very quickly and clearly to everyone where the equipment was and what was needed. Raymond stepped in and went into action with the AED.” She added, “The Greenville County EMS sent a message saying how impressed they were by the skill and first response execution of our team. Every single second counts and the leadership of the ECT made all the difference.”
If you ask Bryant, he thinks every supply chain site should have employee emergency response teams, like the one at Simpsonville. “I’m so thankful for the ECT. I saw people getting involved throughout the years, but I thought it was only for things like small injuries, and I never thought I would need it. Now I know a team like this can save lives—I’m living proof.”
Carroll agrees: “I encourage every plant to form an emergency response team. It’s an incredible asset to employees and the company, and it’s very rewarding to help a co-worker who is having a bad day and to know that you could make it a little better.”
As for Bryant, he is happy to be back to work and is looking forward to spending more time with his family.
“I’m working on getting my full strength back and being able to trust my body again. Now when I see Allen and Raymond, I think—they’re my heroes. It calms me down because I know what they’re capable of and I know they’re there for me. They changed my life forever. I’m just grateful to be alive.”
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About the Author
Britney Callahan is the Content and Social Media Manager at Sealed Air. She writes stories about employees, company culture, and digital transformation, and is responsible for corporate social media content and strategy.