By Matt Clevenger
For the Miami Valley Sunday News
TIPP CITY — Officials from the American Red Cross held a special surprise presentation ceremony at USA Truck on Thursday, April 18, honoring employee Ansel Cummings for saving the life of a truck driver who collapsed at the terminal last November.
“It was a complete surprise to me,” said Cummings, who also received a certificate from the Butler Township Fire Department and a special bonus check for $1,000 from USA Truck. “The check, the awards — I was surprised about everything.”
Cummings was working as a forklift driver at the USA Truck terminal on Nov. 12 when Marion Peters, a truck driver from Alabama, collapsed while delivering a load. Cummings called 9-1-1 and immediately started performing CPR until paramedics responded; his actions that day are credited with saving Peters’ life.
The incident started when Cummings offered to help the driver unload his truck. “As soon as I go over there to help him, he falls over onto the floor like a log,” he said. “His head hits it and bounces off the pavement. I jumped out of the forklift, and I lifted him up; he was still conscious at that point, and said his blood sugar was low.”
“So I help him back up into his cab, and he takes a peppermint to get his blood sugar back up,” Cummings said. “I get him ready to go, and the last thing I’m doing he gets out of the truck and he wants to go inspect the back. As I come back around, I see him fall over like a log again. This time he’s out; his breathing’s labored, he’s not conscious. At one point he was gone; he didn’t have a pulse, he didn’t have a breath or anything.”
Cummings called 9-1-1 and immediately began performing CPR. “As soon as I saw him fall over, I started to dial 9-1-1,” he said. “I was simultaneously holding the phone, all while I’m giving him chest compressions and trying to resuscitate him. By the time paramedics got there, I had him back to a state of consciousness.”
The driver survived and returned home to Alabama, after emergency surgery to install a defibrillator. “It was right before I was planning on taking my lunch,” Cummings said of the incident. “Had I done so, God knows what would have happened to him.”
Originally from Chicago, Cummings learned CPR during a Red Cross class he took as a child. “Everybody had to get it if you wanted to go swim in the deep end at the pool,” he said. “So I had to learn how to do CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”
“I was 11,” he said. “I’m 28 now, so that was about 17 years ago.”
Red Cross training usually lasts two years for certification purposes. “We encourage people to take their training every other year, so it’s top of mind,” said Lynne Gump, executive director of the Northern Miami Valley Red Cross. “But you can see, once you really learn it, it kind of sticks with you.”
“By recognizing Ansel, we want to encourage other people — our employees, and the people in our circle of influence to get informed, to learn how to administer CPR and other first aid so that we can help people around us,” said USA Truck president and CEO James Reed, who presented Cummings with the $1,000 bonus check. “That’s what we’re here for, to help our community.”
“I’m just glad I was there to keep him going when it happened,” Cummings said. “Saving a life, everybody can do that. It’s quick thinking.”
The Red Cross offers CPR and first-aid training at several locations, with class times to accommodate any schedule. More information is available online at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
“We teach them locally, so you can take a class in our Troy office, our Dayton office or our Springfield office,” Gump said. “We have them Monday through Friday and we have them on Saturdays and Sundays. Morning, afternoon or evening; you get to choose how you want to take it.”
“We do company training as well,” she said. “That’s a great gift to give your employees, and a great benefit to have.”