Paul Phillips died on Aug. 13, 2013.
But, thanks to the quick actions of his coworkers and first responders, Phillips’ life didn’t end that day.
On Monday, Phillips, 23, a sewer laborer with the City of Cedar Rapids, was able to thank and shake hands with the men and women who revived him after the telescopic pole he was using to adjust televising equipment in a manhole came into contact with an overhead power line. Between 7,200 and 12,000 volts coursed through his body, stopping his heart from beating and his lungs from pumping. He was clinically dead.
“I appreciate everything you guys did,” an emotional Phillips said Monday at the Cedar Rapids Fire Department’s Central Station, his wife and 1-year-old daughter by his side. “Because of you guys, I got to see my daughter’s first birthday. Each and every one of you guys are my heroes.”
Members of the city’s police, fire and public works departments, as well as medical personnel from Area Ambulance were recognized at Monday’s event. While lifesaving events like Phillips’ are not uncommon, the public rarely hears about them because of medical confidentiality laws, said fire department spokesman Greg Buelow.
Buelow credited the quick thinking of all parties involved in Phillips’ resuscitation.
“There was the quick action by your workers to recognize the emergency,” he said. “They activated the 911 system; they started that chain of survival. There was the tiered response of all the agencies that all came together to hope for a successful outcome for Paul…The teamwork came together.”
Councilman Justin Shields, Police Chief Wayne Jerman, Fire Chief Mark English, Area Ambulance Director Keith Rippy, Public Works Maintenance Manager Craig Hanson and former sewers superintendent Michael Kuntz took turns praising their personnel that played a vital role in Phillips’ recovery.
“As citizens, we probably take for granted that help will arrive when we call 911,” Shields said. “This is a great example that the system works well. They probably don’t want the recognition they receive today. However, it is important for the community to know about the great work they do.”
Added Jerman, “They were just doing their jobs, but by doing their jobs, they allowed Mr. Phillips to continue being a father to his 1-year-old daughter and a husband to his wife…I am extremely proud, I salute you, I congratulate you and you will always be heroes in my eyes.”