It has been a few years since Dub Gillum was an active Highway Patrol officer cruising the highways of North Central Texas, but he was still able to draw from his years of training when it was needed the most.
Gillum, now a DPS staff sergeant in charge of public information and safety education, was one of five Highway Patrol employees recently presented with the agency’s Lifesaving Award.
The training and on-the-job experience in 27 years with the Highway Patrol — plus the training he now provides to others — automatically kicked in on Oct. 5, 2016 in Granbury. Among the classes he teaches are first aid and CPR, in which DPS troopers are required to have 40 hours of continuing education field training every two years.
Gillum, who is based in Granbury but also has training responsibilities in 46 counties, was driving on U.S. Highway 377 when he spotted a motorist who was stranded with a flat tire.
The driver of the vehicle, Dr. Paul Lilly, had pulled off the roadway on the northbound lane in Granbury, about a mile north of FM 167, the road leading to Acton. Gillum found that Lilly was overheated and said he was not feeling well, so he started changing the tire for him.
Lilly — a former Hood County sheriff’s deputy — then cried out in pain, and was having a heart attack.
“He complained of chest pains, and thought he was having a heart attack,” Gillum said. “I got him out (of the vehicle) on the side of the road in the tall grass.”
Gillum said he was trying to find a pulse, and shook Lilly in his effort to begin the process of administering CPR. Lilly aspirated three times, and Gillum cleared his airway to begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Gillium, who learned that Lilly was previously aware that he had a heart condition, called 911. An ambulance arrived in about seven minutes and took Lilly to Lake Granbury Medical Center, where he recovered.
“He was very appreciative,” Gillum said, noting that Lilly wrote a letter to DPS Director Steven McCraw commending him for his life-saving action. “My supervisor found out.”
Gillum said he was simply doing what he was trained to do.
"I was doing what any trooper would do - assist a motorist in need," Gillum said. "I was in the right place at the right time."
An interesting twist to the story was that Lilly’s girlfriend, Kathy Eoff, knew of Gillum because of his own life-threatening moment of crisis years before — and had added him to her prayer list at that time.
In 1998, when Gillum was still a patrol trooper for DPS, he was wounded by gunfire during a traffic stop in Granbury.
“His girlfriend put me on her daily prayer list,” Gillum said of the coincidence.
That wasn’t the first time Gillum had been able to use his CPR training on someone in distress.
On one of his days off in 1997, a neighbor of his knocked on the door of his home. The neighbor’s daughter had a stroke, and Gillum performed successful CPR on her as well.
Gillum said his passion for public safety now also includes helping families by conducting free instruction classes for those who may need a new child safety seat or to make sure of a proper fit.
“I love helping people,” said Gillum, who received a plaque and a uniform pin designating him as a DPS Lifesaving Award recipient though the state’s Public Safety Commission, which meets every other month.
The others who received the DPS Lifesaving at the ceremony in Austin along with Gillum were Major Bryan Rippee, with the Highway Patrol in Lubbock; Trooper Joe Salas, based in Anson; and Tactical Flight Officer Saben Emery and Agent Pilot Kristopher Edgmon, both with DPS Aircraft Operations out of Mesquite.
Trooper Chad Blackburn, based in Webster, was honored with a Purple Heart after receiving life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver in September. Blackburn is still recovering from his injuries.
“Carrying out the department’s mission of protecting and serving Texans requires a cadre of outstanding employees who are devoted to safeguarding and helping their communities – and in many cases stepping in to save a life,” Director McCraw said at the ceremony. “Today we honor several of these exemplary men and women. We are grateful for their continued service and dedication to the public and the entire state.”
The Texas DPS has more than 3,000 uniformed officers, and more than 4,000 commissioned law enforcement officers in all.