Officers recognized for life-saving action for stricken lawyer

A Dec. 4 ceremony honored the law enforcement and court services staff whose quick action saved the life of public defender Glenn Howell (front). Pictured, from left, are Fayette County Sheriff Wayne Hannah, investigator Chad Cowart, Lt. Francis Cavender, bailiff Ron Evans and deputy Warren Collinsworth. Photo/Ben Nelms.

It was a quick response that saved a life. Fayette County Sheriff Wayne Hannah in a Dec. 4 ceremony presented a lifesaving award and a citation for meritorious service to several law enforcement and court services staff for their rapid action in March as public defender Glenn Howell suffered a cardiac emergency at the Fayette County Justice Center.

Hannah at the ceremony explained the circumstances that led to the life-saving action by Lt. Francis Cavender, investigator Chad Cowart, deputy Warren Collinsworth and bailiff Ron Evans. It was on March 21, said Hannah, while interviewing a witness on the stand in State Court that Howell became ill and requested a short break from the court.

“While in the hallway outside the courtroom, Mr. Howell indicated to bailiff Ron Evans that Evans needed to call 911 for him. Mr. Howell then slumped over on the bench where he was sitting. As an ambulance was being called, Lt. Francis Cavender, investigator Chad Cowart and deputy sheriff Warren Collinsworth arrived to assist,” Hannah said.

“Lt. Cavender began chest compressions on Mr. Howell, who at this time had no pulse, while deputy Collinsworth and investigator Cowart prepared the automated external defibrillator that bailiff Evans had retrieved from nearby. A shock from the AED was administered and Lt. Cavender then continued chest compressions until EMT personnel arrived to relieve him.”

Howell, who was in the audience, spoke at the conclusion of the ceremony. The emotion in his voice and on his face was unmistakable.

“I can’t say anything adequate enough to let you know how grateful I am,” Howell said to the four men at the conclusion of the ceremony. “I won’t ever forget it. God bless you all.”

Hannah in his comments before the large number of people attending the ceremony said Howell returned to work with the public defender’s office after a substantial hospital stay and recuperation at home.

It was a somber moment as Hannah read the citation. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Lifesaving Award accompanied by a citation for meritorious service, Hannah said, was being presented as a result of the quick and deliberate actions that saved Howell’s life.

“Lt. Francis Cavender, investigator Chad Cowart, deputy Warren Collinsworth and bailiff Ron Evans distinguished themselves by meritorious service while assigned to the Court Services Section of the Field Operations Division of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office on March 21, 2012 at the Fayette County Justice Center. On this date, Lt. Cavender, investigator Cowart, deputy Collinsworth and bailiff Evans responded to a report of an individual who had experienced a cardiovascular event during a court session in Fayette State Court. The individual suffering from the medical crisis was a member of the Public Defender’s Office. The victim, who had suffered a massive heart attack, would have died without the swift and appropriate intervention by Lt. Cavender, investigator Cowart, deputy Collinsworth and bailiff Evans. The victim was able to return to work and is alive today as a result of their actions. The distinctive accomplishments of Lt. Cavender, investigator Cowart, deputy Collinsworth and bailiff Evans saved an individual life and reflect credit upon themselves and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office,“ the citation read.

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