Palmer City Council

PALMER — Three Palmer Fred Meyer gas attendants were honored with public safety awards at the Dec. 11 Palmer City Council meeting for their prompt action during an emergency situation.

“You knew what to do. Thank you very much,” Palmer Mayor Edna DeVries said while handing the employees their awards.

When a fast moving vehicle driven by an unconscious driver plowed through a fuel pump, striking one vehicle into another vehicle, the three employees quickly responded by shutting down the fuel pumps, checking on the various drivers and ensuring the safety of everyone at the station.

Zack Vance, Katie Harbaugh and Kaylynn Nix each received a public safety award and personal thanks from council members for their commitment to community safety.

“It’s nice being noticed for doing something even if it’s not a whole lot,” Vance said outside Palmer City Hall with Harbaugh, Nix and Palmer Fred Meyer Store Manager Dean Forkner.

Forkner said that he was proud his three employees and they will be highly commended for their efforts.

“I have the best team in the state,” Forkner said.

Harbaugh said she was near the register when everyone heard a crash, then a sudden squealing noise. She said Vance asked her to look out the window to see what was going on. She saw a vehicle and gas pump right outside their kiosk.

“That’s when Zack stepped in and pressed ‘emergency stop all’ for all the pumps. That’s when we all went outside to see what was going on. It was just kind of a blur after that. We were just calling the cops and the ambulance,” Harbaugh said.

According to Nix, Vance took the lead in the situation until their managers and the first responders arrived.

“He held our hand all the way through. I’m not gonna lie,” Nix said. “I just told myself to keep calm.”

Vance said that the entire incident drew a lot of attention and assistance from nearby community members. He said that a couple of people carried the unconscious man from his vehicle and laid him in a safe spot until EMT arrived.

“He had to been hauling,” Vance said.

Vance said that he’s worked a lot of labor jobs and one of the core trainings that has stuck with him is to cut off the power during an emergency situation. He said after he shut down the pumps, he also shut off all electricity to prevent sparks from igniting the fuel.

Vance also noted that the safety valves from the downed pump did what they were supposed to do and prevented gas from spraying everywhere.

“They did their job,” Vance said.

Harbaugh was glad everything worked out okay.

“It easily could have been a lot worse,” Harbaugh said.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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