Incident at customer location serves as safety reminder

April 23, 2015 By

“Expect the unexpected,” says a ThompsonGas branch manager. Photo:

A customer suffers a health issue while the employee is on location. As an employee, what would you do? As a company owner or manager, what would you advise the employee to do?

ThompsonGas service technician Jeremy Fulkerson found himself in such a situation late in the winter during a customer visit in Clayton, N.C.

Following earlier cancellations that day, he arrived ahead of schedule for a service call at the house. Only the family’s teenage daughter, home sick from school, was there. In the process of phoning her parents to tell them of Fulkerson’s visit, she passed out face down near the doorway and lost consciousness for about 10 seconds, Fulkerson recalls.

The employee rushed to the girl’s aid, helped her to the couch and was able to contact her father. Fulkerson stayed with the girl for about 10 minutes until her parents returned home.

Kevin Craft, branch manager for ThompsonGas’ Smithfield and Kenly, N.C., locations, says he was proud to learn of Fulkerson’s quick thinking to “step up and do the right thing” and not panic. The girl’s parents were extremely gracious for Fulkerson’s help, as well, noting his quick reaction and kindness in a letter and phone call to the company.

Craft describes Fulkerson as laid back and easy to talk to. The employee shows a positive attitude and is very professional when it comes to dealing with customers. His actions fit that description in this case.

ThompsonGas felt it should recognize Fulkerson for handling the situation in a professional manner. It published an article about the incident on its website and shared the content via social media. The girl’s father is even quoted in the article, expressing his gratitude toward Fulkerson and the company. The local newspaper also inquired.

Fulkerson, however, doesn’t think the attention he’s received is necessary.

“Everybody tends to make a big deal about it, but I’m trying to explain that I don’t feel like it’s a big deal,” says Fulkerson, 34, father of a 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. “I don’t feel like I did anything that somebody else wouldn’t have done.”

Learning experience
Safety meetings focus on propane-related emergencies and protocol. But perhaps this incident provides a perfect opportunity for propane marketers across the country to discuss with their team members how they would handle a health issue at a customer location.

“You never think about the fact something like this could happen,” Craft says. “But the reality is, it sure can.”

Had the girl remained unconscious or Fulkerson didn’t know how to contact her parents, dialing 911 and waiting for help to arrive would be an obvious first step. It may seem like a simple solution, but isn’t it easier said than done when an emergency is unfolding in front of your eyes? Incidents such as these should serve as safety reminders for the industry.

“My advice for people in a case like this that’s completely out of the ordinary: React like it’s your own family and do what you need to do to make sure they’re taken care of in a respectful and professional way,” Craft says.

According to Craft, per company policy, employees aren’t permitted inside the home unless someone there is at least 18 years old. Fulkerson says he was planning to reschedule the visit when the girl passed out. But after the parents returned home and the girl appeared to be OK, he completed the job.

Fulkerson had worked for Ethco LP Gas in Kenly, N.C., for about five years before ThompsonGas acquired the retailer last August. He is the only service technician and one of eight employees, including Craft, at the branch. 

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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