An emotional reunion this week at the West Bend Fire Department on Seventh Avenue as Scott Koehler shook the hands of the rescue personnel who saved his life.
“You guys did a fantastic job,” said Koehler. “You went over and above the call of duty.”
The life-saving scenario he referred to played out in an ambulance on January 16, 2016.
Koehler initially called 9-1-1 around 1 a.m. but sent the rescue crew packing. “When we signed off the first time,” said firefighter Whitmore. “We knew we’d be back.”
As soon as the ambulance was parked in the station, the second call came in and the team with Lt. Andrew Whitmore and firefighter Alec Hakes returned to Koehler’s home on Eighth Avenue and loaded him up for transport to Community Memorial Hospital and its catheterization lab.
It was after the ambulance had just passed the exit for St. Joseph’s Hospital that Koehler, 56, suffered a heart attack.
“We could see it on the monitor,” Rinzel said.
The Med-11 transport team immediately turned the ambulance around on Highway 60 and made a beeline 1 mile to St. Joe’s. During that time they performed CPR and shocked Koehler three times with the defibrillator.
“We turned around because we weren’t sure we’d get your pulse back,” said Whitmore.
The third shock brought back Koehler’s pulse and breathing. St. Joe’s stabilized him in 20 minutes and then the ambulance rushed him to CMH where Koehler received two stents.
“Technically you were dead,” said Whitmore.
This year alone the West Bend Fire Department and paramedics have saved four people who had heart attacks. During Monday’s common council meeting several members of the community were recognized by the Fire Department with Heartsaver Awards for their life-saving assistance.
Cheri Hart from UW-Washington County performed CPR on student Jerry Williams and helped save his life after he went into cardiac arrest.
At Serigraph, Calvin Steinert, Darryl Pree, Kip Wagner, and Mike Walker helped save the life of co-worker Craig Zillmer who had a heart attack and the staff at the Kettle Moraine YMCA including Chris Delcamp, Anna Hupfmann, Jen Robertson, and Jenny Zaskowski helped save the life of Steven Riechers who had a heart attack in the locker room at the Y.
The message the fire department wants to get across is that all of the Heartsavers took time to learn CPR. In ever scenario their quick action saved a life.