VINTON–At 6:45 a.m. on the morning of September 13, Kevin Craighead, Wayne Bernard, and Mark Atkins got started early, as usual, on their rounds collecting refuse in the Timberidge area of Vinton.
As usual, they walked to the rear of a home where an elderly disabled couple live, to collect their refuse since it is difficult for them to bring garbage cans to the curb. It was then that they heard a woman calling for help.
The men contacted dispatch to summon officers. Unable to establish what was occurring inside as the woman screamed for assistance and fearing that she was in danger, the men took action; and Craighead kicked in the door. They located a woman lying on the floor, bleeding.
The public works employees covered her with a blanket and remained with her until the police and EMS arrived on the scene. It was determined that the woman suffered from chronic health problems, had fallen, and was not able to get back up. Her husband was asleep upstairs suffering from his own serious health problems. If the men had not intervened, the woman would have been left alone and bleeding until late in the day.
“At the time they kicked in the door, they didn’t know what was on the other side,” said Vinton Police Chief Ben Cook.
“This is just another example of the ‘How can I help you attitude’ displayed by employees of the Town of Vinton,” said Chief Cook. “I am very proud of these men. The personal touch that they provide pays off.”
“Our refuse team are once again Town heroes,” said Gary Woodson, Vinton’s Public Works Director. “What a great group I inherited when I took over the Public Works Department here!”
“I commend them for taking action to protect another life, and putting themselves at unknown risk to do it,” said Brenda McGuire, administrative assistant in Public Works. “We have some brave, dedicated folks working for Vinton, and they deserve a big pat on the back.”
This is not the first time that Public Works employees and the refuse collection crew in particular have come to the rescue of Vinton residents. They make a special point to look for anything amiss as they work their way through the neighborhoods each day.
“They know their customers,” said Joey Hiner, assistant director of Public Works. “They notice when something doesn’t look right, when regular customers don’t put out their trash, or mail and newspapers are piling up. They go above and beyond what is required.”
Vinton Town Council commended the three Public Works employees and recognized them during the September 18 Council meeting. At the meeting Chief Cook again described the actions of Craighead, Bernard, and Atkins as heroic and unselfish, as they took action without regard to their own safety.