It takes a village to save a life

The Powhatan County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a proclamation recognizing a group of first responders and citizens for the role each man or woman played in saving the life of Cliff Dalton, front center, who suffered a heart attack on July 16, with the help of his wife, Patsy, front right. The board recognized: back row, from left, Channing Ward, Will Hendel, Art Tate, Rebekah Mann, Madison Ward, Brandon Trevillian and Sammy Curlings; second row, Thomas Young, Josh Barnes, Mike Hart, and Vernon Grady; and front row, 911 shift supervisor Cory Chaffins. Not pictured are Morgan Kingston and Jordan Fisher.

POWHATAN – The crowd around the podium just kept growing.

There were firefighters, deputies, paramedics, 911 dispatchers, and two citizens who saw a need and stopped to help. By the time they filed up to the front of the auditorium in the Village building, 12 people stood around the podium waiting to be recognized.

And at their center was Cliff Dalton, the Powhatan resident whose life all of those people came together to save one hot July afternoon, with the help of his wife, Patsy.

During its meeting on Monday, Sept. 23, the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a proclamation recognizing the group of first responders and citizens for the role each man or woman played in saving Cliff Dalton’s life this summer when he suffered a heart attack at home.

As the crowd around the podium grow increasingly larger, supervisor Carson Tucker reverently remarked, “It takes a village to save a life.”

On that day, a small village is exactly what it took. A little after noon on July 16, Patsy Dalton received a call from her husband from their driveway saying he believed he was having a heart attack, and she went out and found him unresponsive in the vehicle.

After calling 911, shift supervisor Cory Chaffins talked the scared woman through pulling her husband out of the vehicle and beginning CPR while help was dispatched. About six minutes into the call, two good Samaritans, Kleen Line Limited contractor Sammy Curlings and VDOT transportation operator Brandon Trevillian, came upon the scene while in the course of their work duties, and, noticing the emergency, took over CPR from the nearly exhausted spouse of the victim.

Shortly after that, sheriff’s deputies Josh Barnes, Mike Hart, and Vernon Grady arrived at the scene and used a sheriff’s office AED to deliver a shock and continued CPR.

Then assistant district chief Will Hendel, firefighter/medic Thomas Young, firefighter/medic Morgan Kingston, firefighter/EMT Channing Ward, firefighter/EMT Jordan Fisher, and firefighter/EMT Art Tate arrived at the scene to render further medical assistance and transport Cliff Dalton to the hospital.

The board recognized that each man and woman played a role in exercising “outstanding judgment” and promptly performing a “purposeful, distinctive, and successful lifesaving act on another human being” that led to the victim’s life being saved.

“They did a great job – all of them. It took everybody but they saved my husband’s life,” Patsy Dalton said.

Patsy Dalton said after the meeting that her husband was told by doctors he wouldn’t have survived were it not for the aid he received before arriving at the hospital. After the massive heart attack, he was in ICU for two weeks and stayed in the hospital two more weeks after that. He had to learn to walk and do many other everyday tasks all over again.

“He is doing great now. They just started letting him drive again. He is very impatient to get going and do something,” she said.

Tom Nolan, department of public safety communications director, said after the meeting he was glad to see all of the first responders standing up there with the others involved in the incident because it demonstrates how much can go into a call and how many people can be involved.

“Our whole center was working on that call. When you have a huge life saving event, it takes a tremendous amount of resources to work that incident,” he said.

Laura McFarland may be reached at

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