Above the Call, Front page

Avenal prison staff act to save unresponsive coworker

Avenal State Prison sign with prison in the background.
Avenal State Prison.

The morning started out like any other for Stationary Engineer Cesar Quiroz. Reporting to the Avenal State Prison Co-Generation plant on July 9, he spotted a coworker who appeared to be unresponsive. Stationary Engineer Kevin Sizemore, slumped over in his chair in an office, was unresponsive and did not appear to be breathing.

Quiroz immediately took action and gained access to the office. He placed Sizemore on the ground in a recovery position. then announced a medical emergency, requesting medical response to his location. Within minutes, responding custody and medical staff, as well as an outside ambulance, arrived.

As coworkers responded, multiple medical and custody staff took turns providing lifesaving CPR.

Relying on their training, responding staff included:

  • Supervising Registered Nurse II R. Stransky
  • Sgt. A. Matheny
  • Registered Nurse C. Macias-Carrillo
  • Officer V. Murrillo
  • Sgt. S. Rather
  • Sgt. R. Amaro

While others provided chest compressions, Registered Nurse M. Velasquez-Baltazar continued rescue breaths.

Warden Gamboa and members of Peer Support also arrived on scene.

An outside ambulance arrived on scene and emergency personnel began administering medical assistance.

This was when the first glimpse of hope was seen by the exhausted yet dedicated Avenal prison first responders. The paramedics detected a pulse, and staff rushed to place Sizemore onto a gurney and into the awaiting ambulance.

The ambulance departed with ISU Sergeant R. Amaro and ISU Officer A. Cortez on board. Due to his shallow pulse, EMTs continued to use a bag to assist with breathing. Half way to an outside hospital, Sizemore’s pulse became so faint that CPR was once again initiated. After the third round of CPR, Sizemore opened his eyes and clutched Sergeant Amaro’s hand. CPR was stopped and the bag was used again until they arrived at the outside hospital.

While this was happening, behind-the-scene efforts were being made to contact Sizemore’s family to inform them. Because of the swift actions of staff, one of Sizemore’s family members was notified fast enough to be present at the hospital when he arrived. The family was able to speak to medical staff and with representatives of Avenal prison.

Avenal prison’s Peer Support Team, led by Team Leader Lieutenant J. Mendiboure, began to meet individually with impacted staff. The Peer Support Team reached out to all staff members on each shift, especially those in plant operations.

Because of their quick actions, Avenal prison staff saved the life of an unresponsive coworker that day.

Sizemore has since returned to work.

By Captain J. Diaz

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