Oak Creek medics, bystanders bring man back to life after he goes into cardiac arrest
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Medics with the Oak Creek Fire Protection District and two bystanders saved a man’s life Tuesday after he went into cardiac arrest near Stagecoach Reservoir.
The rescue was the first time Fire Chief Chuck Wisecup has overseen a successful resuscitation in his 36-year career in the field.
At 11:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, his agency received a report of a man, whose name has not been released, experiencing chest pain in the 23000 block of Postrider Trail.
According to Wisecup, the man was doing some work on a house there along with two contractors. As medics drove to the incident, the man collapsed, and the others with him could not feel a pulse.
Wisecup notified Classic Air Medical, a company that provides air medical transport, to deploy a helicopter and get the man to a hospital as quickly as possible.
By the time Wisecup and his medics arrived, the man was on the ground, and the other two with him were performing CPR.
“They figured he was down about 13 minutes,” Wisecup said.
Oak Creek medics took over chest compressions and ventilations while Wisecup cleared a landing zone for the helicopter. They then used a defibrillator to administer electrical shocks.
“They got him back after the third or fourth shock,” Wisecup said.
Once the man regained a pulse and was breathing, Wisecup decided to transport him immediately to Steamboat Springs in an ambulance rather than wait for the helicopter. But just a few hundred feet down the road, the man’s pulse stopped again.
Medics performed CPR in the back of the ambulance as it continued to rush toward UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. They resuscitated him about eight minutes later, according to Wisecup.
Meanwhile, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue paramedics sped toward the Oak Creek ambulance and met them on their way to the hospital. As Deputy Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli explained, Steamboat’s fire department is the only one in Routt County with paramedics, the highest level of pre-hospital medical providers.
One Steamboat paramedic got into the Oak Creek ambulance and helped administer aid. While she was there and en route to the hospital, the man‘s pulse stopped for a third time, according to Cerasoli, something that is not uncommon with cardiac arrest patients.
“Sometimes we get a pulse back, and they never go back into arrest,” Cerasoli said. “Sometimes they go back into arrest multiple times.”
As soon as the man reached the Yampa Valley Medical Center, he was flown to a hospital on the Front Range, according to Cerasoli.
Cerasoli has helped to revive several patients during his career, including a Steamboat school bus driver whose heart stopped while students were on board in March. This was Wisecup’s first time leading such a rescue.
“It’s incredible to know you were part of saving someone’s life,” he said, though he admitted he played a limited role in administering aid to the man.
“I give most of the credit to the two men who were there doing CPR,” Wisecup said, explaining resuscitation is most effective when performed during the first few minutes of cardiac arrest.
According to Wisecup, hospital tests showed the man’s coronary artery was completely blocked. Since Tuesday, the man has seen major improvements in his health.
“He was up walking at the hospital and talking,” Wisecup said after receiving an update on the man’s condition Thursday afternoon.
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A local resident since 1969 who worked in social services and real estate, Catherine Lykken has decided, at age 85, not to renew her professional real estate license next year.