Never Quit: Ellington DPW Crew Saves a Fellow Member's Life

The “Never Quit” attitude of AFSCME members was on full display in the Town of Ellington on June 10, when the heroic actions of three Department of Public Works employees saved the life of their colleague Shawn Bull.

The day started normally for Bull, a DPW maintainer and member of AFSCME Local 1303-009, but soon veered into disaster when he lost control of his high-powered chop saw while working on a catch basin. The saw kicked back, sliced Bull’s neck open and severed his carotid artery and jugular vein.

Thankfully, his crew partners and fellow union members Rich Daugherty, Dennis Giroux and Ron Moser moved swiftly and decisively to save Bull’s life.

Moser grabbed Bull’s neck and applied pressure to the wound while alerting Daugherty and Giroux for help. Giroux called 911 and urged that a LifeStar helicopter dispatched.

Daugherty, the local union steward and an Army Medic in the first Gulf War, put his training to immediate use.  “I didn’t want to remember Shawn under a sheet,” he said.

With his co-worker in danger of bleeding out, Daugherty literally pinched the severed vein and artery in Bull’s neck. That proved to be the difference between life and death in the eight minutes it took for Lifestar and EMS to arrive on the scene.

“Everything was lined up to go wrong, but everything ended up right for Shawn to still be here,” Daugherty said.

Three months later, Bull still bears the visible scars of his horrific injury. He has not returned to work, but is grateful to be alive and present in the lives of his wife Rachel and their two young daughters.

“I have a second chance at life,” Bull observed. “I won’t ever be the same but I can live with what I’ve got.”

On Sept. 12, state and local officials – including Ellington First Selectman Lori Spielman, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, State Senators Saud Anwar and Daniel Champagne, and State Rep. Chris Davis – honored the Ellington DPW employees involved in the June 10 incident.

“It’s an example of how seemingly ordinary people do extraordinary things,” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz as she presented Daugherty, Giroux and Moser with their proclamations from Gov. Ned Lamont.

“You have the back of each other,” Anward added. “That is inspiring.”

The recognition ceremony left Local 1303-009 President Josh Hebert, a DPW maintainer, brimming with pride and gratitude.

“You never think something like this will happen," Hebert reflected. “There’s a brotherhood in our department that showed itself in the strongest colors possible that day. It’s an amazing story.”

L-R: Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz; State Rep. Chris Davis; Ronald Moser, Denis Giroux, Shawn Bull, Richard Daugherty, State Sen. Saud Anwar, Ellington First Selectman Lori Spielman and State Sen. Daniel Champagne.