Fighting for 50

Dave Slusny (c.), who has been making strides every day, recently visited his coworkers and lifesavers Jim Tanno (l.) and Joe Widecan (r.).

April 9, 2019

Thanks to two quick-responding coworkers at Middlefield Line Shop, Dave Slusny – a meterman at The Illuminating Company (CEI) – is looking forward to achieving a big milestone: 50 years of service at CEI in July.

But, on Jan. 24, Dave’s future didn’t look as hopeful.

Dave was inside the Middlefield office discussing a job with his good friend of 20 years, Distribution Line Technician Joe Widecan, when his heart suddenly stopped. Dave passed out, gashed his head on a nearby desk and was unresponsive.

Joe sprang into action, immediately calling 911 and clearly communicating the exact location of the line shop to the dispatcher. He then opened the shop door to flag down more assistance and spotted Line and Substation Supervisor Jim Tanno, who happens to be an AED/CPR certified trainer.

“I waved Jim inside the shop,” recalled Joe. “He located the AED right away and handed me a pair of scissors to remove Dave’s shirt.”

Jim had never been faced with a real-life emergency before. “My adrenaline just kicked in and, remembering the steps I learned over the years in training, I was able to apply the AED pads to Dave’s chest and have the machine administer a shock,” he said.

After the shock, Jim began administering CPR chest compressions to Dave, who was starting to get air and fight for breath when EMTs arrived at the scene moments later. They took Dave to the local hospital, where he underwent a surgical procedure and remained in a medically-induced coma for the next three days.

During the ordeal, Dave’s Meter Services supervisor, Mike Timm, always believed he would pull through.

“The doctors said Joe and Jim’s efforts as first responders gave Dave a good fighting chance of survival,” said Mike. “And they were right.”

Dave is now home and on a steady path to recovery. And his FirstEnergy coworkers and friends have been there to help him along the way.

Employees from Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 270 took up a collection to help ease financial burdens for Dave and his wife, who also has some physical limitations, while he recuperates. Since doctors advised Dave not to drive right now, Mike takes his coworker to all his follow-up medical appointments. Lineworker leaders Jim Piras and Bob Golias have assisted by feeding the Slusny’s household pets, including dogs and chickens that Dave and his wife have on their rural Geauga County property.

“We have a small line shop with only 10 employees and we look out for each other,” said Mike. “The biggest takeaway is the impact first responders can have on someone’s survival by knowing where the AED is located onsite and how to use it, as Jim Tanno did for Dave. It made a real difference.”