Bad day turned good—Brad Lodge was dead for 30 minutes. Thanks to CPR, AED he lived.

Brad Lodge’s angels, with the AED that helped save his life: from left, Casey Sebastian, Tary Kolek, Greg Mahr, Nate Schwickerath, Chuck Reicks and Mary Larson.

Brad Lodge’s angels, with the AED that helped save his life: from left, Casey Sebastian, Tary Kolek, Greg Mahr, Nate Schwickerath, Chuck Reicks and Mary Larson.

By Marcie Klomp
They all passed the buck. “It wasn’t me. It was the guy before me.” The next one said, “It wasn’t me. It was the guy before me.” Sounds normal. Nobody taking responsibility. But this is different. Each one of the individuals involved in saving the life of Brad Lodge, 62, on March 17, 2014 credited the person who got there before them.
It started out as a typical Monday at the LimeSprings Beef worksite. Lodge, project manager, was watching Dan, Steve and Brian Bohr of L&S Masonry, running hoses to thaw out the ground.

Then Lodge fell over. “I thought he slipped on the ice. Then I thought he had a seizure. Then I saw it was worse than that,” remembers Steve. As Steve held him, saying, “Hang in there; hang in there,” Dan was dialing 911.

Lodge was not responding at all. “It was scary. He’s a friend of mine,” Steve said.

Jake Heisler of Cresco Building Service was working in a different area when Dan shouted, asking if anyone knew CPR. “I told him to do compressions. By the time I got there, they had already taken his dip [chew] out. I tried finding a pulse. Then I took over compressions.” Heisler had taken CPR in high school 10 years earlier and knew to keep doing compressions until someone tells you to stop.
Hearing the first responder call over their Lime Springs Fire Department pagers, Casey Sebastian, Tary Kolek and Nate Schwickerath all decided to go on the call. Fire Chief Schwickerath commented he doesn’t usually respond to those calls, but he did to this one.

On his way to the building site, Sebastian called fellow firefighter Nate Widell and asked him to bring the AED (automated external defibrillator), just in case. He was told Kolek had already picked it up, so Sebastian knew backup was on the way.

As it was, Sebastian ended up being the first emergency personnel on the scene. “I expected to find some guy sitting against the wall having a hard time breathing.” What he found was Heisler attempting CPR. “Can’t find a pulse! Can’t find a pulse!” Sebastian shouted. The city worker carries a first aid kit in his truck. He took out the pocket mask and put it on Lodge’s mouth.

“You hold the mask, and I’ll do CPR,” Sebastian told Heisler. The usual sequence is 30 compressions per two breaths, which is what they started.

In the meantime, Kolek had grabbed the AED, which is housed at the fire station, and he and Schwickerath raced the mile to LimeSprings Beef.

Doing CPR is very physically demanding. Sebastian was tired out. When Kolek arrived he took over compressions for a while. Schwickerath started to get the AED in place.

First Lodge’s shirt needed cut, so patches could be placed on the chest. By the time Schwickerath found the scissors in the First Responder bag, someone had already cut off the shirt.

The patches were put on, and the defibrillator turned on. Sebastian noted, “The AED walks you through it. It takes the measurements and tells you when to shock him.”

Lodge had already been shocked once before RN and EMT Mary Larson showed up with her supplies and oxygen tank and got his airway opened.

“I was pleased to see people already working on him,” she commented. Several noticed that as soon as Larson intubated him, Lodge’s ears went from a purplish color to the normal pink. “I inserted the oxygen and he pinked right up.”
Brad Reed, operations manager, arrived half-way through the ordeal. He looked down, saw the victim and continued asking where Lodge was. “His color is was off, I didn’t know who it was.”

Other first responders, Greg Mahr and Chuck Reicks, arrived shortly thereafter . . . all expecting to see a guy with chest pains and a possible heart attack.

What they found was cardiac arrest, and a fight for life. (Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops for no reason.)
Fifteen minutes after the call went out, the ambulance was at LimeSprings Beef.

Lodge was shocked four times by the Lime Springs AED and three times by the one in the ambulance. Very few people survive that. By the time the ambulance left, the consensus was that Lodge was gone. Sebastian figured, “There’s no way this guy’s going to make it.”
The remaining rescuers made their way to the fire station, with their heads hung low, for a short debriefing. This was Schwickerath’s fourth heart attack call. None of the others made it. Larson has been an EMT for 26, and she never had a save. None of them expected this situation to be any different.

“He was dead in all reality,” said paramedic Brady Norman. “He was dead for 30 minutes. I can’t say enough about those guys. They gave him the best chance of survival.”

Reicks was driving the ambulance, Norman was in the back with fellow paramedic Sarah Kozelka and Mahr. Usually the ambulance takes patients back to Cresco, but since Norman found Lodge’s pulse, he decided to take him directly to Rochester. From the call going out to arriving at St. Marys, the time was one hour and nine minutes.
Lodge was starting to come around by the time they arrived at the hospital. “He started breathing on his own. I’ve been doing this for six years, and this is the first out-of-hospital cardiac arrest that made it to discharge,” said an amazed Norman. It took everything falling in place, but Lodge made it. “That $1,000 piece of equipment (AED) saved his life.”

When Mahr came back from Rochester, he called the others to tell them the good news. Schwickerath commented, “This is what makes it all worth it. Firefighters and EMTs do hours and hours of training. That’s why you do it!”

Sebastian rejoiced, “He’s the luckiest guy I ever met. It wasn’t his time. It just wasn’t his time.”

Schwickerath was thunderstruck by the whole situation. “It could not have been any better. Everyone stepped up to their level, and then the next person showed up to continue.” When commended for his part in the miracle, the fire chief said, “It was Casey who did it.” Sebastian gave credit to Heisler. In reality it was everyone.
Schwickerath took away three things from the miracle he helped create. 1. There needs to be an AED in every place of business. 2. More EMTs are needed in Howard County and especially Lime Springs. 3. Don’t give up. “Nobody there was going to give up.”
Reicks agreed. As an EMT, he said, “We just keep going until someone over us tells us to stop.”

These guardian angels had a hard time remembering the small things, like who cut off the shirt or who got the oxygen tank. But they did remember the big things . . . like their training on saving a life!
Lodge’s wife of 39 years, Sue, reported he was doing great.
“They told me he went into cardiac arrest. They put in a defibrillator that will shock his heart when needed.” On Friday, just four days after being “dead,” Lodge was released from the hospital.

“He didn’t see the white light. He doesn’t remember anything. He has short term memory loss and can’t drive for 10 days.”

One week after the accident, Lodge’s nephew drove him back to the worksite. “I had two doctors. Neither one could believe I was still here,” Lodge said. He doesn’t remember much about Monday or Tuesday. “I knew people came to see me. I just couldn’t say anything, but I knew they were there.”

He commented about his rib cage. “I don’t think anything is broke, but that’s the worst of it!” As for his rescuers, Lodge said, “I truly thank everyone.” After a few backslaps and handshakes it was back to business for Lodge. One of his main concerns was making sure the job was getting done!

Sue’s friend, Nancy Brown of North Dakota told her via Facebook, “I knew Brad would be just fine because Sue has the largest army of prayer warriors engaged for his recovery!”

“I can’t say how proud I am of the Lime Springs first responders. They had what it took to save this man’s life. They didn’t let anything stop them,” concluded LimeSprings Beef president, Jesse Stevens.

The couple has 27 nieces and nephews and 46 greats, with two on the way, who are all glad Brad made a miraculous recovery.

The accident happened on St. Patrick’s Day. Although Brad isn’t Irish, Sue is. She was wearing her green and is glad she had the luck of the Irish on her side.

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2 Responses

  1. As a paramedic with over 7 years experience, I can with confidence say that those 1st responders and the AED are the sole reason that patient survived. Excellent work by everyone!

  2. Amen to everyone involved! Thank you for taking action and saving a life. You were all so important in the survival of this man. Thank you!

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