A carefree night spent dancing to the tunes of the Holy Rocka Rollaz July 31 crescendoed in dramatic form when a 64-year-old man suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed while dancing.
The man and his wife were among a crowd of more than 100 people who were enjoying the Thursday Nights Live! at the Dam concert at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park on that summer evening.
Bystanders reacted with life-saving action, performing CPR and using an AED from the park pavilion while someone called for help.
Coon Rapids police and fire responded to the “man down, not breathing” call. When they arrived four minutes later, “good, effective CPR was being performed,” as stated in the incident report filed by Coon Rapids firefighter Ryan Wagner.
In fact, the man was resuscitated and awake, alert and talking when EMS personnel arrived at the park, inserted an IV saline drip and transported the man by ambulance to Mercy Hospital.
“The way (bystanders) responded was exactly to the letter how we train them,” said Coon Rapids Police Officer Bryan Platz.
In fact, as six people took turns administering CPR, someone in the crowd started singing, “Stayin’ Alive,” Platz said.
“That’s the song we train them to sing to help keep the beat of 100 compressions per minute – and someone started singing it to help keep the beat. That’s our Coon Rapids Heart Safe program working in real life. Saving real life,” said Platz, who was instrumental in efforts that led to the city of Coon Rapids being established a Heart Safe Community in October 2013.
Coon Rapids Police Sgt. Daren Keasling was on the scene that night and later said, “In 20 years I’ve never seen anything like that. Ninety-nine percent of the time when you get the call ‘not breathing, no pulse’ everybody is just standing around, not knowing what to do.”
“This time, when we got there six people had already done compressions. They were saving this man’s life. It was awesome. Absolutely awesome,” Keasling said.
Life-saving citizens on the scene at the dam that night included Troop 524 Boy Scouts and their leaders who had taken Platz’s CPR training in February 2013.
“He was clinically dead and these bystanders brought him back. I talked to him yesterday and he said he’s feeling great, getting stronger every day. This is an amazing story. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to train more people, get more AEDs out there,” said Platz, who is currently working to get Anoka County designated as a Heart Safe Community.
Designated by Allina Health, Heart Safe Communities help educate citizens about sudden cardiac arrest and improving heart health, raise money to place AEDs in the hands of EMS, fire and police personnel, makes AEDs available in businesses, schools and other public gathering places, and train people to use AEDs and perform CPR.
To learn more about Heart Safe Communities, or to find a local CPR class, visit AllinaHealth.org/ahs/aboutallina.nsf/page/Comm_Heartsafe or go to Facebook.com and search for “Coon Rapids Heart Safe Community.”
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org