Avera Medical Minute AHH: Cardiac arrest victim saved by good Samaritans

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It’s a story of being at the right place at the right time. The outcome of a cardiac arrest could have been very different if weren’t for good Samaritans who stopped to help.

Cath lab registered nurse Jeff Vanorny saves lives as a living at Avera Heart Hospital. Little did he know, he would save another life on his drive home from work one evening.

‘I just happened to look over to my right and there was a truck in a garage. And from the other direction, it looked like they had just drove in the garage door -- like it was just parked there normally -- and I’m like ‘oh geeze, he drove through the garage door.’ And I could kind of see an arm hanging out the door and so I pulled over, stopped and went over and checked on him. And another neighbor was coming out at the same time, so I went over to her and we were checking him out and he wasn’t awake, wasn’t responding to anything. I couldn’t tell if we had a pulse on him. The sheriff then came too and we all decided we need to pull him out and start CPR. We started CPR and kept going until the paramedics got there. Luckily, the sheriff also had an AED which was the best thing for him. We shocked him a couple times and the third time it said he was back,” said Vanorny.

The patient was husband and father Glade Aleck.

“I would say his chances were pretty slim if somebody hadn’t recognized the fact that this wasn’t just a trauma, this was a medical ahead of the trauma,” said Monte Mathews, a paramedic with Paramedics Plus.

Mathews says it makes his job a lot easier when the first people on scene are trained in CPR. He and his crew take over care from there.

“We did a quick pulse check, shocked the patient again, put him on a spine board and got him in the truck. Then we put on our Lucus, which is the automated CPR device, established an airway, established IV access and took off for the hospital,” said Mathews.

“To find out the guy worked at the Heart Hospital, worked in the cath lab, did everything perfectly right -- had he not been there, had he not been going home from work, had my husband crashed in a different area, I don’t think he’d be with us today,” said Karen Aleck, Glade’s wife.

“I’m glad it was him that was right there at that moment,” said Casey Aleck, Glade’s son.

Karen and Casey consider Vanorny and the countless others who stopped to help, heroes.

“Then you reflect back on where do those people come from? And you start realizing what they did and how quick they did it. It’s overwhelming to think about could I do that? I don’t know if I could, but they did and they saved my husband’s life,” said Karen.

“For what we do here, it was just kind of like work everyday. It was just doing it out in the snow,” said Vanorny.

“He doesn’t even know it yet but he’s got a friend for life, several friends for life,” said Casey.

A cardiac arrest requires immediate CPR and use of an AED, both of which Glade received thanks to some extraordinary citizens who stopped to help. Glade is now back home from the hospital and thankful to be alive.