Co-op Director Saves a Stranger’s Life While in D.C. for Legislative Conference

Moon Lake Electric Association director Ken Moon administers emergency CPR to a man who had collapsed in a Washington, D.C., street. (Photo Courtesy: Yankton Johnson)

A director from a Utah electric cooperative visiting the nation’s capital last month for NRECA’s Legislative Conference found himself in the right place at the right time to save a stranger’s life.

On his first trip to Washington, D.C., Ken Moon, a director at Moon Lake Electric Association, drew upon his 39 years of advanced EMT experience in restarting the heart of a man who had collapsed in a street.

“He was completely blue, no heartbeat, no breathing, nothing,” Moon said. “I thought I didn’t have much of a chance, but I just did my best and it turned out right.”

The unusual and rewarding example of cooperative commitment to community came as a group from Roosevelt, Utah-based Moon Lake Electric arrived in D.C. on April 20.

Ken Moon is a director at Moon Lake Electric Association. (Photo Courtesy: MLEA)

It already had been a long day for the delegation, consisting of Moon, his wife, Nancy, who also is an EMT, director Tommy Olsen and his wife, Marcia, and CEO/General Manager Yankton Johnson and his wife, Stephanie.

They had driven nearly three hours west to Salt Lake City, only to find their flight east delayed for an hour because of a shortage of pilots. After finally arriving in D.C. and checking into a hotel, they took up a clerk on a restaurant recommendation and headed to dinner a few blocks away.

That’s when they encountered several people standing over a man lying in the street across from the restaurant. At first, Moon suspected a car had struck the victim, but he later learned a motorist pulled the vehicle into the street to protect the fallen man from traffic.

Some people were yelling for Narcan, a nasal spray used in suspected opioid emergencies, while another man was attempting CPR. To Moon’s experience, the compressions were too slow and too high on the chest.

He stepped in and took command of the situation.

“I’ve done CPR many, many times, but we have a hard time saving people unless it is immediately started when they go down. Time is totally of the essence,” said Moon, who estimated the stricken man had been without a heartbeat for about a minute. “The guy was blue. Usually when I see that, it’s impossible to bring him back.”

From a distance, Johnson detected no movement when the first individual performed CPR. “When Ken took over, the man’s belly looked like a tidal wave—up and down, up and down,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Nancy Moon asked bystanders for details about the man, his name, and where he lived to help medical personnel with details when they arrived. Olsen prepared to step in for Moon if needed. A street officer arrived but without Narcan, which responders in a fire truck later brought.

After two doses and five or six minutes of CPR, the man, on the edge of death, returned to life.

“That just does not happen without a defibrillator,” said Moon, first certified for advanced EMT duties in 1985. “I was actually shocked when I felt the sense of a pulse.”

Once revived, medics escorted the stricken man for additional evaluation. What happened in the long run is unclear.

“We never did get the outcome. I just know when he left, he had a heartbeat and was breathing on his own,” Moon said.

The circumstances led Johnson to believe more than coincidence was at hand that day in D.C.—the delayed flight and the random choice of a dinner spot put the Utah delegation exactly where it was needed to save the life of a stranger.

“It’s a great example of how the cooperative mindset is to help others,” he said.

Johnson took a practical lesson from the incident. He met with the co-op’s 98 employees and educated them on Narcan, noting it could play a role in an emergency even in a rural area like Moon Lake Electric’s in northeast Utah and northwest Colorado.

“I put up the picture from Ken’s CPR, described the experience and said this could happen to any of us. This is another part of co-op safety training,” Johnson said.

As for Moon, a rancher from Duchesne in his second term on the board, he hopes he won’t have to employ CPR again in Washington.

“The conference was great. It was kind of an exciting start to it. I plan on attending pretty much every year now since I found out how much I enjoyed it.”

Steven Johnson is a contributing writer for NRECA.