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Kentucky Power electrician honored for efforts to save choking victim

by on May 18, 2015

(Story by Allison Barker)

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky Power electrician Nathan Newsome’s split-second decision to help a choking victim has earned him the American Electric Power Chairman’s Life Saving Award and the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

Nick Akins, AEP’s president and chief executive officer, recently traveled to Pikeville to personally present Newsome with the chairman’s award, which recognizes employees for their selflessness in helping others.

“I am always moved, but never surprised, when I hear that an AEP employee steps up to help someone in need,” Akins said. “Nathan’s actions exemplify what we stand for and who we strive to be at Kentucky Power and AEP. We are incredibly proud of him for using the life-saving skills that he’s learned as an AEP employee to save the life of a stranger.”

AEP CEO Nick Akins (left) recently traveled to Pikeville to personally present Nathan Newsome (right) with the Chairman’s Life Saving Award.

When Newsome stopped by the Gold Ring Diner in Elkhorn City Jan. 15, he planned to grab a quick burger and fries and then head back to work. Instead, while waiting for his order, he jumped in to perform the Heimlich maneuver on Jim Reid as he was choking on pie and ice cream. No one else in the restaurant that day knew first aid and CPR.

“We are proud of Nathan and his heroic efforts to help a stranger in need,” said Greg Pauley, Kentucky Power president and chief operating officer. “When others were unsure what to do, he did not hesitate to step in. His quick decision is a source of pride and inspiration to all of us.”

Newsome, a five-year employee who received Red Cross safety training as part of his job, said it felt good knowing he could be of assistance.

“Everyone started thanking me for my help and I explained I just did what I had been trained to do,” Newsome said. “It feels really good to know you made a difference and knew what to do to help someone.”

The award Red Cross award Newsome earned is given to an individual or a team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Health and Safety Services course.

“Every day, ordinary people make extraordinary contributions by putting their needs aside to help others in times of crisis,” said Joanna King, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We are proud to present Nathan with this award. He had the courage to step up, take charge and use his Red Cross training to assist someone in a true emergency.”

Newsome was not the only Pikeville area employee to receive an award during Akins’ Kentucky visit. Akins also presented Kentucky Power Field Services Supervisor Carolyn Thacker with the 2014 AEP Utilities President’s Safety Award. The award recognized the Pikeville MRO group for achieving Triple Zero – zero recordable incidents, zero severity days and zero preventable accidents in 2014.

Nick Akins presents Kentucky Power Field Services Supervisor Carolyn Thacker with the 2014 AEP Utilities President’s Safety Award.

After the awards, Akins addressed questions and concerns from Kentucky Power’s Pikeville District employees. With the closure of many coal-fired power slated for the end of May, many employees wanted to hear from Akins about AEP’s future. Power generated at Big Sandy Unit 2 in Louisa will be among 6,750 megawatts lost this year.

“It’s been a challenge for a lot of people,” Akins said. “I can’t imagine how it would be to not only be retiring but to have the plant where you worked your whole life closing. That’s a pretty emotional experience. We’re going to get through it. We’ve been as compassionate as we can be in the process and that’s something we’re very committed to so that people can transition on with their lives.”

Atkins also told employees he was happy to join Pauley for a recent meeting with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear following an order from the Kentucky Service Commission that questioned a formula in use for decades to determine fuel cost recovery. Pauley wanted employees to know “Nick had our backs.”

Akins said, “The order that came out seemed to indicate that we tried to hoodwink the commission and it really did disparage us in a lot of ways. I wanted the governor to know that that’s not the way we do business. … AEP is not about trying to hoodwink anybody. We are very transparent.”

From → News From AEP

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