Individuals honored for life saving efforts

From keynote speakers presenting Ted Talks to musicians on YouTube, the phrase “10,000 hours” is known for the time investment needed to excel at a given craft or area of expertise. The HeartSafe program of Anoka County is well on its way to becoming a 10,000 hours program, and recently celebrated a successful response to a 911 emergency call that turned out to be a cardiac arrest. The event was relived at a recent East Bethel City Council meeting where the first responders were recognized for their life saving efforts with certificates and HeartSafe Savior coins.

Coon Rapids police officer and HeartSafe ambassador Brian Platz talks about CPR with cardiac arrest survivor Greg Stewart, his daughter Katie and wife Sharon. Photo by Brian Siddons
Coon Rapids police officer and HeartSafe ambassador Brian Platz talks about CPR with cardiac arrest survivor Greg Stewart, his daughter Katie and wife Sharon.
Photo by Brian Siddons

On June 19, the East Bethel Fire Department responded, along with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and Allina Medics, to the residence of Greg Stewart. The 911 phone call came in from Stewart’s daughter, Katie Stewart, to the 911 dispatcher on duty, Tanner Ess, and was passed to Allina Dispatcher Naz Gurel.

Upon hearing what had transpired, that, as Katie witnessed, her father “had suddenly felt ill and yelled ‘ouch’ as he fell to the floor,” Gurel said “I got her started on CPR fairly quickly. She listened to me and had some training in the past that helped make my job easier and helped her dad. I counted compressions with her to keep her going.”

The EMS system in place paid off from start to finish for 46-year-old Stewart, thanks to the medical and emergency preparedness training hours put in by the first responders, who arrived in less than four minutes. The East Bethel Fire Department arrived first, and took over CPR duties from Katie. Shortly thereafter, another fire department crew arrived, along with the sheriff’s deputies, providing fresh help for the CPR duties being performed.

It was a team effort, as a total of eight different responders did CPR on Stewart. For just over 19 minutes, lifesaving duties were performed, including a total of four AED shocks that were administered. As long as it took, East Bethel Firefighter and HeartSafe Lead Troy Lachinski said the team “never considered stopping” their efforts.

What began as a night to order pizza turned into a hectic period for Greg, Katie and Sharon Stewart, Greg’s wife of 23 years and Katie’s mother. “I had to keep calm and help keep my mom calm,” said Katie, who was 20 at the time.

“They worked on him a long time and brought me in and out of the room because I was so upset,” Sharon said. “I’m so thankful they didn’t quit.”

Stewart is doing well and on his way to making a full recovery.

He’s extremely thankful to everyone that helped, and has a new outlook on life. He spoke before the crowd and said, “The responders all say I’m a big deal because I survived, but they are they big deal. They gave me another chance to hug my daughter and see my wife. The only way I can thank them is to pray for them each day I wake up and also to be a better person. I’m honored to live in a community that I feel so safe in.”

“This is why the city council and city staff of East Bethel has supported HeartSafe,” said Mayor Steve Voss. “We hope there are more outcomes like this in the future.”

Stewart’s wife, Sharon, was asked what advice she would give others. “Learn CPR. The knowledge is so important!”