Cullman deputy honored for saving life of local man

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Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Deputy William (Billy) Garrison, right, was honored Tuesday for saving the life of Cullman resident Paul Levering, left, on Sept. 30, 2018. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN – Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy William (Billy) Garrison on Tuesday received the Lifesaver Award from WoodmenLife in recognition of his quick action that helped save the life of resident Paul Levering in a Cullman Dairy Queen on Sept. 30, 2018.  Garrison, who has been with the sheriff’s office since June 2018, performed life-saving CPR on Levering until Cullman Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived on the scene.

Levering has a passion for cycling and rides regularly with his good friend Rick White. White wrote about the events of that Sunday after Paul and his wife Kay left the morning worship service at Cullman First Baptist Church.

He wrote, “Paul and Kay headed to Zaxby’s for lunch but en route decided to eat at Dairy Queen for their snack lunch A LIFE-SAVING DECISION! Unknown to Paul, a member of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Billy Garrison, was also headed to lunch at Arby’s. He too changed his destination to Dairy Queen. A LIFE-RESCUING DECISION!”

Garrison said he wasn’t sure why he changed his mind, sharing, “Something just told me to turn right and get Dairy Queen instead.”

His training as a deputy and as a volunteer firefighter in Garden City would soon be put into very real action. 

White continued, “Paul was finishing his meal with some ice cream while sitting across from Kay. Paul suddenly collapsed over the booth table and Kay began screaming for help. Just across the Dairy Queen aisle at another booth, Billy rushed to Paul and, in Kay’s description, ‘threw Paul to the floor, ripped open his shirt and yelled CALL 911! Breathe! Breathe! and began CPR.’ In just a few minutes emergency personnel were present and took over. He was flown by Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter that just happened to be located that day about six blocks away from Dairy Queen.”

Levering was taken to UAB where he underwent heart surgery on Oct. 4. It was determined by the physicians that had Garrison not performed CPR during the time before EMS arrived, Levering most likely would not have made it.

Said Garrison, “I was just doing what I have been trained to do. EMS came with the LUCAS equipment and they were able to get Mr. Levering conscious again. There was also a registered nurse in Dairy Queen that day and he helped, too.”

WoodmenLife representatives Phillip Robertson and Ken Bates were on hand to present the Lifesaver award to Garrison, recognizing him for his “quick action” and “rising to the occasion.” 

Garrison thanked Sheriff Matt Gentry, saying, “If I didn’t have this job, I wouldn’t have been at work or going to lunch that day.”

Gentry said of his deputy, “Billy is a fine young man. He exemplifies what we want deputy sheriffs to be. Deputy sheriffs are engrossed in the community and they are part of the community. That’s important to us. The Good Lord put him there that day . He was there for a purpose.”

As for Paul and Kay Levering, Paul is back riding his bicycle again.

He said, “I rode 27 miles on Sunday.” 

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