Events aligned perfectly in order for me to tell my story of going into cardiac arrest and being revived by a team of emergency responders.
I’ve worked at The Dickinson Press for nearly 50 years, and during that time have had heart issues. The day of the cardiac arrest was an ordinary day -- I felt fine, but needed to take a picture.
I was assigned to write a story about Volunteer of the Year Kathy Kohler, who keeps score for basketball and volleyball games at Dickinson State University Scott Gymnasium.
At the end of our interview at her office, my camera died (still doesn’t work), so I decided to take a picture of her at a game on Friday, then switched to a Saturday game in January.
I sat down on the bleachers near the scorekeepers, not feeling well -- kinda nauseous. Oh well, I thought I would take the picture and go home. My husband, Duane was standing by the door.
I walked up to the table and said “Hi Kathy.”.... And that’s when everything went black.
It’s taken me several months to stop feeling weird about the event, but I’ve recently gotten more the details from those involved.
Dale Dolechek, custodial team leader for Scott Gym and Tim Kreidt, DSU athletic trainer were standing on the side off the court by the doors. Kreidt was scheduled to work that game.
“It’s where I usually stand for basketball games,” he said. “I came up from my office about 10 minutes before the game started. I was watching the warm-ups. “You were standing by the score table and you went down.”
Kreidt told how he deals with first aid, a lot of muscular and skeletal injuries or dislocated shoulders.
“And I’ve dealt with diabetic comas and things like that, but this was the first time I responded to a cardiac arrest,”he said.
His training automatically kicked in.
“I tried to talk with you and you weren’t responsive, and then I was looking for somebody who knew you. I was asking if you had a medical bracelet. Then I saw you went into cardiac arrest -- I assume it was cardiac arrest, correct?”
“Yes,” I said.
He continued, “When you went down that’s when I initiated the process with the AED (automated external defibrillator). When I started compressions, a nurse (respiratory therapist Lori Jung) came from the other side of the court and she asked if she could help. I said if you do the breaths, I’ll do the compressions and we’ll run the AED.”
Dale helped set up the AED. He later told me, “You looked as blue as your coat.”
“The AED was hooked up and we started the process,” continued Kreidt. “We shocked you and we went back into compressions and breaths again. You went back into cardiac arrest again and we started the whole process over. The AED kicked in again and shocked you, and we continued compressions and breaths again until the ambulance showed up.”
Kreidt said he has been trained in first aid and CPR for 30 years.
“Now we know why,” I told him.
He added, “I’ve always had it updated.”
DSU has a protocol it follows during an emergency, and it worked perfectly, he said. The AED was on site and the first responders were notified.
Speaking with Lori Jung a few weeks later, she quipped, “You look pink!.” She had also decided to attend the Saturday game instead of Friday. (A couple of weeks later, she stepped forward to do CPR on a man and helped save his life during a WDA basketball tournament in Bismarck.)
Reflecting on the incident, Kreidt said his wife is a nurse, having worked in the ER for years.
“She said I can’t believe that’s how it went down. With all the controlled settings, we often can’t bring them back. She said it was amazing that I was brought back -- twice.”
Ending our conversation, Kreidt added, “I am so happy you are doing well. I was glad I was there for you and the AED was a big part too… and all the people who helped. The stars were aligned that day.”
I remember waking up in the ER while a nurse was putting in a line into my arm. I felt completely awake -- “Where am I? Where is my camera? Where is my purse? Where is my husband?... In that order.
The days spent at CHI St. Alexius at Bismarck were sketchy and I complained of multiple broken ribs. Kreidt said he could hear them crack during compressions. Surgeons put a pacemaker/AED into my chest, in the event a cardiac event happens again.
As you can tell, I am here today because the emergency responders were at my side within minutes and an AED was in the building where I collapsed. All coincidental? I don’t know.
My 50-year-old brother, Bob recently died in his garage in Bismarck of a cardiac event. The ambulance just didn’t get there in time. If only we had AEDs in more locations and more trained emergency responders, I’d like to think that more lives could be saved… maybe even my brother.