Saving A Life At Work

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The day started like most days at the Assemblers, Inc. call center in Chattanooga, TN…

By Mich Michaud

But, by 3PM, an ambulance had been called and one of its own had a near-death experience.

“I looked over and Mark was on the floor!” said one employee.

Folks began running around calling for help, “Someone call 911!” said one employee. “He’s having a seizure!” yelled another.

One-by-one employees put their headsets down and ran over to see what was wrong. By now there was a sizable crowd gathered around Mark Cothern, a Spalding and Hoist Fitness sales representative. Next to him at the center of it all was an imposing figure, fellow employee Recruiter Lance Morgan.

“I think he may have saved my life,” said Mark, looking back on that day.

Mark Cothern, Assemblers, Inc. employee

Lance Morgan, a former employee of the month, was leaning over him, trying to bring him back to consciousness. “I didn’t know what was wrong with him, but I was not going to leave his side until he was okay,” said Lance.

Lance had no idea it was diabetes that was causing Mark’s medical emergency but for his quick thinking, he would soon earn his second employee of the month title–this time for saving Mark’s life.

“I was diagnosed as borderline or pre-diabetic several years ago. This means my blood glucose levels were regularly above the “target zone,” but it was manageable with medication, diet and exercise.”

Mark and Lance Morgan visit while at work

“Recently, however, my quarterly A1c test results had a much higher reading, moving me into the diabetes range.” The A1c test measures average blood sugar levels for the prior three months. Now that he was officially diabetic, Mark said this meant it was time to change his treatment plan from an oral medication to insulin therapy – something Mark had never done before now.

“Initially, it is a bit of trial and error to get the dosage just right. You have to monitor how your body reacts as you increase or lower the dosage of insulin.”

On this particular day, Mark was experiencing extremely low blood sugar three hours after lunch which caused Mark to slip into unconsciousness while sitting at his desk.

His co-worker, Lance, happened to walk by, and as he did, he casually said hello and kept walking. When Mark didn’t say hello back, Lance glanced back and saw Mark sitting upright and what appeared to be asleep.

“I walked back and when I realized he wasn’t sleeping, I immediately pulled him to the ground to see if I could wake him,” said Lance. “His sister, who sits right next to him, sprang into action.”

“A quick glucose injection revived me,” said Mark, “So I was wide awake for the ambulance ride to the hospital for further monitoring,” he said with a smile.

After a well check with his physician, Mark decided to begin using a blood sugar monitoring system called CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. “This device sticks on my arm and is worn for 14 days at a time. It uses a small needle on the interior of the disk to pick up real-time glucose levels from the fluid between cells, below my skin. I don’t even know it’s there!”

No more finger pricks required – one quick scan of the GCM using his smartphone and he can see every fluctuation since the last time it was scanned. This is an improvement over blood testing with strips, which only show glucose levels at that moment in time.

Every once and awhile, Lance says he can’t help but glance over at Mark to see how he’s doing.

Meanwhile, Lance’s colleagues nominated him for employee of the month. “When Mark had his medical emergency, Lance stepped in and got Mark to the floor and in a safe space, taking care of him until paramedics arrived. Not many people can step up at a time like that and although Lance was not completely sure of what could be done, that didn’t stop him from attempting to help in any way possible and quite possibly saving Mark’s life,” said one nomination.

Employee of the Month for July 2021, Lance Morgan.

With advances in technology, diabetes can be easily and discreetly managed. “Last week’s A1c test was right on target, which was great news,” said Mark.