Two Citizen Awards of Merit were presented by Coon Rapids Police Chief Brad Wise at the March 7 Coon Rapids City Council meeting to two people for their successful lifesaving efforts.
Denise Klint performed CPR Feb. 6 on a co-worker who suffered sudden cardiac arrest, while Toma Kraft did the Heimlich maneuver on a woman who was choking in a restaurant Feb. 17.
“Rather than wait for help to arrive, they both were the help that made all the difference,” Wise said.
“People stepped up in a time of need and changed the direction of someone’s life.”
According to Wise, just after 7 p.m. Feb. 17, Coon Rapids Police officers responded to a call that Geraldine “Geri” Engstrand, 55, was choking with a total airway obstruction at Chick-Fil-A, 3950 River Rapids Drive NW.
Kraft, a construction foreman who lives in Elk River, had recently been trained in first aid and “leaped into action,” performing abdominal thrusts to dislodge the food from Engstrand’s throat and allowing her to breathe again, Wise said.
“If not for the immediate lifesaving efforts of Mr. Kraft, there would have been a very different outcome,” he said. “He clearly saved the life of another person.”
Engstrand was not able to attend the council meeting to see Kraft receive his award of merit, but the woman Klint saved using CPR, Tanitha Johnson, attended, along with family members and friends.
According to Wise, just after 10 a.m. Feb. 6, Johnson, 29, collapsed at the office where she worked, Midwest Disability, 408 Northdale Blvd. NW.
Klint, who retired from the Coon Rapids City Council in December 2016 after serving 18 years, “immediately jumped into action” and performed CPR on Johnson for several minutes before first responders from the Coon Rapids fire and police departments arrived and found she was suffering from sudden cardiac arrest, he said.
After emergency responders took over CPR and performed a defibrillation procedure, Johnson regained a pulse and was transported by ambulance to Mercy Hospital, Wise said.
She later learned from doctors that her heart stopped due to untreated high blood pressure, he said.
Johnson is now recovering at home and the fact that she was able to come to the merit award ceremony “is a miracle,” Wise said.
There clearly would have been a different outcome if not for the lifesaving efforts of Klint, according to Wise.
Klint and other City Council members had been trained in CPR a few years ago through the Coon Rapids Heart Safe program by Coon Rapids Police officer Bryan Platz, a co-founder of the program.
Platz was at the ceremony March 7 to present Heart Safe coins to Klint and Johnson as well as the police officers and firefighters, who were also recognized for their efforts.
They were officers Dan Freiberg and Jarrod Guy (who could not be present) and firefighters Joe Caminati, Joe Gottwaldt, Greg Wester and Christian Worby.
In 2013, Coon Rapids was the first city in Anoka County to be designated a Heart Safe community by the American Heart Association Minnesota Chapter.
The program has trained some 15,000 people in the community to not only recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest, but also in the use of CPR and automated external defibrillators.
It has also worked to have AEDs placed in public places in Coon Rapids.
Platz told the council that with some new council members since the last training session, it was time to schedule another one.
“That’s a great idea,” said Mayor Jerry Koch.