Two Dickinson firefighters, doctor resuscitate DPS Board president with CPR following cardiac arrest
Brent Seaks, president of the Dickinson Public School Board, is currently seeking treatment at CHI St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck following a cardiac arrest moment in which two Dickinson firefighters and a doctor helped revive him.
DICKINSON — It was a moment that began with slight discomfort, typical for most people over 50 during athletic activities, but quickly turned into a life and death situation — literally. Luckily for the Dickinson man, the lifesaving efforts of two off-duty Dickinson firefighters and a doctor not only saved his life, but brought him back from death.
On Monday night, during a game of Old Pro-Basketball at the West River Community Center, Brent Seaks suffered a cardiac arrest.
Seaks, president of the Dickinson Public School Board, was on the court with Dickinson Fire Department's Deputy Fire Chief Mark Selle and Dr. Brian O'Hara when about a minute into the second half of their game Seaks felt dizzy and had to take a seat on the bench near another teammate.
“I do remember I made two baskets in a row and thought I was doing just great. But when I sat on the bench, and then I don’t (remember),” Seaks said.
While he says he doesn’t remember what happened next, O'Hara and Selle do.
Teammates noticed Seaks begin to slump over and called out for help, to which Selle immediately rushed over to see what was going on. Seaks had lost consciousness and together with O’Hara, Selle moved the school board president safely to the ground.
Within a few seconds, a seizure overtook Seaks before he went into a full cardiac arrest, according to Selle.
Capt. Dusty Grosulak of the Dickinson Fire Department had just finished up a game of Co-ed City League Volleyball on one of the other courts when his wife yelled for him, saying that he might want to help out. As Grosulak rushed to the scene, he could see they were already performing CPR on Seaks, but a pulse was not located. Grosulak jumped in and began administering breath.
“(I’m here) only because of the good work of those that (were) around me including Mark Selle, Dusty, Dr. O’Hara. From what I understand, it was a team effort. Some ran and called 9-1-1, others got that defibrillator going. Others called my wife,” Seaks said.
According to Seaks, his doctor noted that it was a medical miracle that he survived. A preliminary diagnosis made by doctors determined that Seaks suffered an electrical problem with his heart.
Seaks remains in treatment at CHI St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck following his cardiac arrest. Seaks noted to The Dickinson Press in an interview Tuesday evening that he met with a cardiologist, who determined from an angiogram that Seaks had actually died in Monday night’s incident, but was resuscitated by the lifesaving efforts of those that rendered immediate aid.
A bystander handed Selle an automated external defibrillator (AED) after four rounds of CPR proved unsuccessful. Nearly five minutes had ticked and Selle and O’Hara decided that the best option would be to work together to deploy the AED and shock Seaks in a last ditch effort to resuscitate him.
In the middle of the sixth cycle, Seaks gasped for air, opening his eyes and his pulse slowly returned. Through the fire department, Grosulak said he’s dealt with a situation like that before, but this was the first time as a bystander while not on duty. Grosulak reflected on the incident and his takeaways.
It’s just (about) bringing somebody back when it’s not their time to go.
“Well, initially, it felt helpless. But then when we started to see signs of life, it was much more comforting,” Grosulak said. “Those small wins like that, they make it all the time and effort and training and stuff you put in much more worth it.”
From there, the two firefighters and doctor monitored his pulse until an on-duty crew from the fire department showed up to give Seaks oxygen. Shortly after DFD’s arrival, the Dickinson Area Ambulance Service entered the building and Seaks was transferred over to their machines, loaded into an ambulance vehicle and taken to the hospital.
“I tell you the ambulance driver, she was fantastic. She was the same one I had last night. She was saying too… what a miracle it was that those guys just did what they did,” Seaks said. “I feel blessed to be alive is what I’d probably say first. I’m still apprehensive. The journey just started. But if I had been at home or not around those folks, then I doubt I would be here today. So I’m just very blessed that they did such a great job. It really was miraculous… I’m very grateful.”
Selle recalled the moment as something he never experienced before firsthand.
“We train on this type of training for quite a few years. I’ve been in the fire service for 18 years and every year, we get trained on CPR. It’s muscle memory; (it’s) something you train in all the time and you go right into it. It’s most common you use CPR… on somebody you know and this happened to be the case,” Selle said. “Fire service is a little different because we get opportunities to do it on the public, but this was a gentleman I knew and that’s typically what happens. So you got to train yourself to be able to go through those scenarios and those stressful situations.”
I could not be more blessed to have the right people in place at the right time.
When Seaks started to breathe again, Grosulak said he felt “relief” because oftentimes in those types of situations, that outcome is not always promised.
“Situations like that is why we do what we do, so we can get back to our community and hopefully, help keep loved ones in the community,” Grosulak remarked.
Being on the scene at the time it happened, Selle noted that they were already alerted of the person’s symptoms and worked together to fix those issues. Sometimes that’s not always the case on 9-1-1 calls, he said.
“Knowing basic CPR could save a life. That’s really what brought him back… The sooner you get the CPR (and) AED initiated, the better chance for recovery. Just knowing what to do can really save somebody’s life or make them have a better life afterwards,” he added.
As the executive director for Badlands Ministries, Seaks noted how grateful the organization was to previously receive defibrillators through a grant from the City of Dickinson and Billings County.
“That’s the other piece that was there to save my life. If that defibrillator wasn’t there, I could’ve had a different outcome,” he said, pausing, “Things we take for granted, but I could not be more blessed to have the right people in place at the right time.”
Though the incident was quoted as miraculous by Bismarck doctors, Selle noted that he didn’t do it for the praise.
“This is the most awkward part (for) me is the after part. This is what we get paid to do and we’re just here to help citizens and not here for the accolades,” Selle said, adding. “It’s just (about) bringing somebody back when it’s not their time to go.”
Following the swift actions from two of Dickinson’s firefighters and medical doctor, Seaks texted them Tuesday morning, thanking them all for saving his life. He looks forward to the moment he can thank them in person. As for getting back out on the basketball court, Seaks isn’t throwing in his towel yet.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to that,” he said, chuckling on the other end of the phone. “But I think at this point, I’m just taking it one thing at a time here… I pray that they can find more of what the culprit was, fix it and have better days ahead.”