Mt Pleasant

Conservation director, county dispatcher presented Life Saving medal from sheriff

Honor given for John Pullis, Jill Benedict's 'quick thinking' in performing CPR on fellow county employee

John Pullis, director of the Henry County Conservation Department and Jill Benedict, dispatcher with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, were presented the Life Saving medal and pin from the Sheriff’s Office for their quick actions in saving fellow conservation employee Tony Millard last year.

Pullis and Benedict were given the medal and pin during a Conservation board meeting on Feb. 11. Sheriff Rich McNamee said the two didn’t want a “big production” over receiving the honor and were both “very humbled” by it.

This is the first Life Saving medal and pin McNamee has given out since he took office in 2013. McNamee said Pullis and Benedict deserved the honor for their “quick thinking, recalled training and determination” to save fellow county employee Tony Millard, who had a “cardiac episode,” on July 6, 2018.

Millard went to work around 6:15 a.m. in July and drove to the Conservation offices.

Pullis reported to work as usual slightly after Millard. Pullis entered the Conservation’s maintenance building and found Millard sitting in his chair unresponsive.

Pullis took immediate action and relied on his training, McNamee said. He dialed 911 and spoke with dispatcher Benedict. For seven minutes, Pullis conducted CPR while Benedict assured him the ambulance was on their way.

“I listened to the 911 call,” McNamee said. “Jill encouraged (Pullis) to keep going.”

“(Millard) is one of our own,” McNamee said. “CPR is strenuous, and it was a little more strenuous because it was John’s work partner and friend.”

McNamee went to visit Millard in the hospital the morning of the incident and said the outlook was grim.

“His family said it wasn’t good,” McNamee said, adding that he believes Millard is alive today because of Pullis’ and Benedict’s actions.

McNamee said that the success rate for CPR isn’t extremely high. According to 2014 data from the American Heart Association, nearly 45 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when a bystander administered CPR. But only about 46 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get immediate CPR help before professional help arrives.

There are about 10,000 cardiac arrests in the workplace each year in the U.S., according to a report from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“You don’t have to search high and low,” McNamee said. “Anyone can be certified in CPR.”