Tuesday, June 1, 2010 • Utility district employee called a hero

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, June 1, 2010, edition of the Lassen County Times.

A Susanville man is alive today because of the action taken by a veteran Lassen Municipal Utility District apprentice lineman.

At the LMUD Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, May 25, paramedic and educator Mark French called LMUD employee Adam Hull a hero who saved his life.

Hull, who also has worked as a customer service clerk and meter reader during a decade as an employee of the publicly owned utility district, was filling in reading meters on Wednesday, May 19 when he encountered a man on the street in distress.

French said he was driving in his truck and eating a sandwich when a bite of food became lodged in his throat. He unsuccessfully tried to clear the obstruction, stopped his vehicle near Second and Spring streets and got out.

“I was on my hands and knees when Adam stopped to help,” French said. “‘Hey, are you OK?’ were his first words as he got out of his work vehicle. I mouthed the word ‘Heimlich,’ and without any hesitation, Adam put his arms around me and began abdominal thrusts. Within a moment the obstruction was cleared, and I could breathe.”

French said he called 911 on his cell phone and both he and Hull talked to the operator. As a paramedic, French said he knew an ambulance wasn’t needed. He said Hull stayed with him until it was clear French would be all right.

“Adam stopped to help a stranger,” French said. “His unselfish act saved the life of someone unknown to him. I’m sure that his training as an LMUD employee certainly helped him to remain calm in an emergency, but his actions speak of something deep inside. That’s something that can’t be taught. LMUD chooses its employees very well as far as I’m concerned, and I will never forget Adam’s prompt actions.”

A reluctant hero, Hull said he was simply at the right place at the right time, but French said Hull helped a person in need and saved his life.

Ray Luhring, LMUD’s general manager, called Hull’s action, a real heroic deed.

After French’s comments, delivered during the public comment portion of the meeting, the two men shook hands and embraced as Hull received a standing ovation from the district’s board, staff and the public attending the meeting.

Ironically, French said he’s taught the Heimlich maneuver many times as a paramedic instructor, but this is the first time he’s ever had to have it done on him.

Be safe — stay away from downed power lines
Luhring said a member of the public reportedly moved a downed power line off the road near Payless Building Supply on Wednesday, May 5. Luhring said the district’s safety equipment apparently worked as it should and cut power to the line.

Luhring reminded the public downed power lines present an incredible and potentially fatal danger. Residents should report downed power lines to the utility and never touch them.

Other business
The board ratified the revision of the Power Delivery and Cost Analysis worksheet that led to a 1-cent reduction in rates last month. The board also changed the name of its rate stabilization fund to board restricted funds and reduced the amount of the fund from $4.5 million to $3 million.

Despite a concern from Bill Stewart, LMUD’s controller, that the board was creating an accounting nightmare, the board elected to keep the additional $1.5 million in the fund rather than transfer it to unrestricted reserves.

The board also approved a three-year contract for accounting services with the accounting firm of Baker Tilly. The firm will charge $45,000 annually for audits in 2010 and 2011 and $47,000 for an audit in 2012.

Gene Chittock, LMUD’s legal counsel, said he expects the district will soon receive $17,000 from the court as part of a judgment against Westwood resident Eileen Spencer. He said a final ruling had been made in the case.

The board will hold a budget workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 10 and a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29.