Ship Bottom police Sgt. James Butler's quick thinking saved a life last Monday - after an accident that is a powerful reminder of the dangers still facing some shore towns more than a month after Hurricane Sandy.
Bradley Diem, 45, of New London, Wis., one of the legion of out-of-state workers who have been pitching in to bring normalcy back to storm-battered towns, was nearly killed when the front-end loader he was touching made contact with high-voltage transmission lines.
When Butler arrived on the scene, he dragged Diem clear of the loader and quickly administered CPR. Diem had no pulse. Assisted by Long Beach Township Patrolman Neil Rojas, Butler continued CPR until paramedics arrived. Doctors say his efforts gave Diem another chance at life.
Temple's Dr. Daniel Edmundowicz, an expert on electrical injuries, said, "Thank God the officer was there and trained in CPR. The longer a person goes without effective pumping of blood, the more tissue damage and organ failure occurs."
It was just the latest dramatic incident in a month that has tested the mettle of the eight-member Ship Bottom Police Department, which found itself at ground zero when Sandy struck Long Beach Island.
Diem has a long road to recovery ahead of him, and the specifics of this accident are still being investigated. But it serves as a sobering reminder that in disaster zones, there is no such thing as too much concern for safety.
This is especially true when people are working near damaged and downed power lines, or near a damaged natural gas grid - something we all might want to keep in mind the next time we are waiting for power to be restored following an outage.
And it's something contractors might want to consider before they complain too loudly about the presence of Occupational Health and Safety Administration inspectors in the disaster-cleanup area.
Last month, some builders complained that OSHA inspectors seemed overeager to fine contractors on Long Beach Island, and that their presence was keeping some companies away, hindering the recovery effort.
No business is happy about paying OSHA fines. But those fines are based on practices that have resulted in unnecessary accidents - and possibly deaths - in the past. One person's intrusive requirement is another's guarantee of a safe workplace.
So while contractors may resent OSHA's presence, it's likely their workers do not.
And while some safety requirements may seem like nitpicking, in a disaster zone even small infractions can have terrible consequences.