Nolan McGowan has always wanted to help others. That’s why he’s proud to work as both a field technician for Minnesota Energy Resources and a first captain for the volunteer fire department in Ellendale.
In late October, his worlds collided when a routine call for a natural gas leak turned into a medical emergency.
McGowan was finishing work in the basement of a home in Blooming Prairie, when he heard a commotion upstairs.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” McGowan said.
He raced upstairs and found a grandmother in distress because her young granddaughter was having a seizure.
While the grandmother called 911, McGowan’s emergency response training kicked in.
“I helped put the child into the recovery position and checked her airway to make sure it was clear from obstructions,” he said.
But his assistance didn’t stop there. After police arrived on scene, he took the patient’s younger brother into another room and played games with him to distract him.
“I just wanted to help the grandmother however I could,” McGowan said.
As a volunteer first responder, this was certainly not McGowan’s first time providing assistance when it was needed the most. (When pressed, he says he’s helped to save at least four lives and even helped to deliver a baby.) But he sees his work as something he was raised to do.
“My dad, Steve, also works for Minnesota Energy Resources; he’s also a volunteer firefighter,” McGowan said. “It’s kind of just a family tradition.”
Steve McGowan has been with the company for 37 years and Nolan for eight. They care deeply about their work on and off the clock.
“It’s a way to give back to the community that you work and live in,” McGowan said.
The day after he jumped into action, the Blooming Prairie police chief called to personally thank McGowan for his assistance. But McGowan says he was just doing his job.
“I do this because I want to help, not for the recognition.”
In September 2023, McGowan was honored with the Meritorious Service Award from MEA Energy Association for his efforts. The Meritorious Service Award is granted to recognize those who have performed actions in the service of another that are considered above and beyond.
“The people who receive these awards reflect what is good and noble in society,” said John Gann, membership sr. vice president of MEA.” Their actions are a testament to who these individuals are and to the training they receive as WEC Energy Group employees.”