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Longview honors firefighters

The Longview City Council honored, from left to right, Trevor Brunelle, Justin Noel, Jim Trussell and Ryan Fugelburg for saving the life of Chris Wills, far right, after a heart attack. Wills' wife, Jennifer, is also pictured.

The Longview City Council Thursday honored two off-duty firefighters and two citizens who saved the life of a Longview man after he had a heart attack while fishing.

Later in the meeting, the council then voted to accept a grant that will help pay for three additional firefighters.

Chris Wills, who is married to Longview Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Wills, was fishing on the Columbia River in the early morning on Aug. 31 when he went into cardiac arrest, Interim Fire Chief Jim Kambeitz told the council Thursday night.

His friend Trevor Brunelle, who was in the boat with him, recognized the signs and immediately started CPR, which he had learned only three weeks earlier, Kambeitz said.

Off-duty firefighters Justin Noel and Jim Trussell, and their friend Ryan Fugleburg, were fishing nearby during the Longview Union Firefighter annual salmon derby, Kambeitz said. They boarded the boat and took over CPR while Brunelle drove the boat to shore.

Wills was taken to PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center and gained full consciousness 40 minutes later, Kambeitz said.

Wills presented the four men with the Life Saving Award on Thursday to thank them for their actions.

“Without you, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “I want to encourage you as councilmembers to take this opportunity to help promote CPR in the community. Everybody should know where the (automated external defibrillator) is.”

Following a standing ovation from the packed council chambers, Mayor Don Jensen also thanked the men.

“It doesn’t always work out this way, but the stars were aligned,” he said.

The council later unanimously accepted a federal $579,000 grant to help cover the wages and benefits for three additional firefighter paramedics during a 3-year period.

During the first and second years, the grant funds about 75 percent of the wage and benefits. During the third year, the grant funds about 35 percent, according to the city.

The fire department has 180 days to recruit and hire the new firefighters. The department is obligated to maintain staffing levels after the grant expires.

The city now has 10 firefighters on duty at any given time, while the standard recommendation is to have 15 firefighters on duty for a residential fire, Kambeitz told the council.

In other business, the council also:

  • Accepted the donation of a portrait of George Washington from the Longview Masonic Lodge to hang in the Longview Public Library.
  • Approved a $150,000 consultant agreement with Kittelson & Associates for traffic signal improvements on Washington Way and 15th Avenue.
  • Adopted an uniform definition of “engaging in business” in the Business and Occupation Tax to comply with state requirements.
  • Set a public hearing on Nov. 1 for proposed revenue sources for the 2019 General Fund Budget.
  • Updated the Revolving Loan Fund Plan to meet requirements from the Economic Development Administration.
  • Heard from five constituents who spoke against the proposed fertilizer plant at Mint Farm.

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