Inmate Health Nurse Supervisor Craig Greenlee is being honored with Union County’s first Lifesaver Award for his split-second thinking and situational awareness to potentially save the life of a colleague at the Union County Jail.
On December 29, 2020, two Detention Officers were processing inmate mail, when a white powdery substance fell from a Christmas card into one of the officer’s hands. As he handed the card to the other officer, H. Younts, the white powdery substance became airborne resulting in Younts’ accidentally inhaling some of the powder.
As Younts became dizzy, Greenlee immediately responded and observed his colleague experiencing what appeared to be signs of a potential drug overdose. Greenlee quickly retrieved Narcan, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, and administered it to Younts. Younts was taken to the hospital where she was treated and released.
“Due to Craig’s quick thinking, I am still here today,” said Younts.
Detectives and crime scene investigators tested the powder, which was confirmed to be Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It can cause respiratory issues and even death.
“Extraordinary circumstances such as this one deserves extraordinary recognition,” said County Manager Mark Watson before a surprise presentation outside the Union County Sheriff’s Office on February 22, 2021. “Craig’s medical expertise and quick actions resulted in saving a colleague’s life and there is no award that can truly convey our appreciation for his efforts.”
The Management Team recognized Greenlee’s heroic actions by surprising him with the Lifesaver Award on February 22, 2021 outside of the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
“It is a great honor to receive this award, but a greater honor is seeing my co-worker and friend each day she comes to work,” Greenlee said after receiving the Lifesaver Award.
Following the presentation of the Lifesaver Award, Sheriff Eddie Cathey presented Greenlee with a plaque in recognition of the Inmate Health program at the Union County Jail, which started approximately 10 years ago. Union County is one of the few counties in North Carolina to implement an Inmate Health program of this caliber with dedicated nursing staff to coordinate medical care inside a county detention facility through the health department. The collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office and Public Health has proved tremendously successful, providing quality health care services.
“The Inmate Health Nurses are greatly appreciative of the recognition from Sheriff Cathey and his staff,” Greenlee said. “Inmate Health works diligently and relentlessly to provide much needed medical care to our diverse population and even more so throughout the COVID- 19 pandemic. Nursing staff have worked very hard in the interpreting, processing, and implementing guidelines from the CDC and Union County Public Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our congregate setting. Between mid-December 2020 and mid-February 2021, we have processed more than 1,300 rapid tests to test for the virus among our diverse population and Sheriff’s Office personnel. By having excellent support from the Union County Management Team, Public Health Administrators and staff; along with Sheriff Eddie Cathey, UCSO Administration and Jail staff, we will continue to provide the best medical care to our population,” Greenlee said.
As a recipient of the Lifesaver Award, Greenlee was awarded $250. The Lifesaver Award is given to Union County employees whose selfless actions result in saving someone’s life.
Pictured, above: County Manager Mark Watson, Inmate Health Nurse Supervisor Craig Greenlee, Sheriff Eddie Cathey
Watch the video from the award ceremony.
Craig Greenlee with Sheriff Eddie Cathey.
Craig Greenlee with his wife and daughter.
Craig Greenlee with County Manager Mark Watson.
Craig Greenlee and Detention Officer H. Younts.
Craig Greenlee with his wife and daughter at the award ceremony.