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Lompoc Landfill employees help save a life

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LOMPOC, Calif. - Two employees at the Lompoc Landfill became heroes on Dec. 6 after a man suffered cardiac arrest while dropping off his trash.

James Leonard Williams Jr., 84, from Vandenberg Village drove his truck to the landfill at 3:45 p.m. that afternoon when he suddenly became unresponsive.

Lead Heavy Equipment Operator Clint Porter said that his colleague, Landfill Coordinator Vincent Reyes, saw that Williams’s truck was not moving and that Williams was slumped over the wheel in the driver’s seat.

The City of Lompoc said Porter and Heavy Equipment Operator Amadeo (Ben) Segura used his city-led CPR training to determine that Williams was not breathing and had no heart beat.

“So I walked up to him, his window was down, and I shook him, and said 'Excuse me sir, you alright? You ok'? Tried to get some type of response, and nothing," Segura said.

The employees unlocked the truck and put it in park before removing Williams, laying him on the ground and starting chest compressions.

"[When] I started unzipping his sweater, I saw a scar there. He'd had open heart surgery," Segura said.

The group notified Landfill Coordinator Chelsea Terrusa, who called 911 and relayed the operator's lifesaving instructions to Porter and Segura.

Lompoc City firefighters, paramedics along with Santa Barbara County emergency medical responders arrived at the landfill and took over from there. The emergency responders were able to restore Williams heartbeat before transporting him to Marian Regional Medical Center.

While the his staff were still performing lifesaving procedures to Williams, Landfill Supervisor Gale Greer opened the landfill gate for the ambulance.

“I feel like everybody jumped in together as a team, and there was really no reluctance of what they were going to do to this man,” Greer said. “I was so amazed, and relieved, and impressed, and proud of what they did.”

The City said Williams and his family are deeply grateful.

“We got a hold of the sister, she came from Florida, and the wife. And they actually brought us all turkeys for Christmas dinner. So that was nice of them, and I talked with Mr. Williams on the phone yesterday, he's doing very well," Greer said.

Williams is recovering from the incident at a Lompoc rehabilitation facility.

By phone call with City staff, Williams said he recalls laying on the ground and then waking up in the hospital with nothing in between.

“There couldn’t have been a better time for them to be there,” Williams said. “I need to thank the guys who were there. They saved my life, and they’re my heroes.”

“We just did what we had to do, you know, to try to save him I was hoping for the best, and it worked out for the best," said Segura.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.

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