An Amazon warehouse worker who had a heart attack and died was said to have been lying on the floor for 20 minutes before being spotted and given treatment by an internal safety responder.
Billy Foister, 48, of Lancaster, Ohio, went into cardiac arrest at the Amazon warehouse where he worked in Etna, Ohio, on September 2. Billy worked as a stower, scanning and stocking warehouse shelves.
Billy’s brother, Edward Foister, told The Guardian that while they were at the hospital, an Amazon human resources representative told him that Billy had lain on the floor for 20 minutes after he had the heart attack, before being found by an Amazon Amnesty worker.
Billy Foister, 48 (pictured), had a heart attack while on the job at an Illinois Amazon warehouse. His brother said that it took 20 minutes before someone found him lying on the ground
‘Bill was on the floor for quite some time and nobody knew that time until cameras were reviewed, but in 20 minutes a worker in a nearby department saw him lying on the floor and then began radio callouts for 911,’ an Amazon worker who was on the same shift as Billy told the newspaper.
‘It really is unbelievable how Bill was laying there for 20 minutes and nobody nearby saw until an Amnesty worker with a radio came by.’
The employee said that the Amnesty worker – people who walk the floors to make sure they are clear and reset robot units as necessary – then started performing CPR on Billy, who was unresponsive to the efforts.
Emergency services arrived at the warehouse in under six minutes and took Billy to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
‘How can you not see a 6’3″ man laying on the ground and not help him within 20 minutes?’ Billy’s brother said, adding that ‘a couple of days’ prior to his heart attack, Billy ‘put the wrong product in the wrong bin and within two minutes management saw it on camera and came down to talk to him about it.’
The incident took place at this Amazon warehouse in Etna, Illinois, on September 2
Billy, who worked as a picker at the Etna warehouse (shown), was eventually spotted by an Amazon Amnesty worker, who provided CPR and called 911, but it was too late
An Amazon spokesperson told The Guardian via email that Billy did not die at the Etna warehouse and that ‘Several trained team members quickly responded and administered CPR and AED until local emergency responders arrived, within minutes, and took over.’
The spokesperson then added that Billy was taken to the hospital where he died.
Edward said that Billy had gone to the Etna warehouse’s AmCare clinic to report experiencing headaches and chest pains a week prior to having his heart attack.
Instead of being sent to the hospital, Edward said that Billy had his blood pressure taken and was told that he was dehydrated. He was then given two drinks and told to go back to work.
‘There was no reason for my brother to have died,’ Edward said, noting that ‘He should have been sent to the hospital, not just sent back to work just to put things like toothpaste in a bin so somebody can get it in an hour.’
‘It seems Amazon values money way more than life. If they did their job right, I wouldn’t have had to bury my little brother,’ Edward added.
Billy is said to have been the second person who died following a heart attack at the Etna warehouse – which employs about 3,700 people – over six months.
In March, it was reported that picker Joe Bowman, 60, had a heart attack on the job and was found unconscious. During the 911 call, the supervisor who made the call was said to have been heard telling another employee to ‘Go back to work.’
In 2017, Thomas Becker, 57 (pictured with wife Linda), died after having a heart attack at an Amazon warehouse in Joliet, Illinois. Linda filed a lawsuit in January claiming that Amazon workers waited 25 minutes before calling first responders for help
Bowman was said to have been ‘down three to five minutes without CPR,’ according to the 911 call obtained by The Guardian.
From January to March, there were said to have been 28 calls made from the Etna warehouse to 911. Of those calls, five were said to have involved suicidal employee concerns and five others were about one-the-job injuries.
Back in 2017, another Amazon warehouse worker, Thomas Becker, 57, died after having a heart attack at the warehouse in Joliet, Illinois. His widow, Linda Becker, is said to have filed a lawsuit in January 2019, claiming that management waited about 25 minutes before calling the Joliet Fire Department, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Billy and Bowman’s incidents are said to be among the reasons why Amazon has been added to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s 2019 Dirty Dozen list, which catalogs the most dangerous employers in the US.
Six Amazon workers are said to have died between November 2018 and April 2019, while there have been numerous reports of dangerous working conditions at warehouses in recent years.
Although Amazon did not offer a comment about Bowman or Becker’s incident, an Amazon spokesperson did tell the newspaper that ‘As a company, we work hard to provide a safe, quality working environment for the 250,000 hourly employees across Amazon’s US facilities. Safety is a fundamental principle across our company and is inherent in our facility infrastructure, design, and operations.’