Survivor Honors Paramedics


 
 

Russell Lissau | | Thursday, May 21, 2009


How would you thank people who save your life? Is a call, an e-mail or a card enough?

Not for Mundelein-area resident Al Stensrud.

Six days after suffering a near-fatal heart attack at his home, the 47-year-old Stensrud on Tuesday walked into Countryside Fire Protection District Station No. 1 with his wife, Sandy, and reunited with the firefighter-paramedics who kept him alive on the way to the hospital.

Unsuccessfully fighting back tears, he shook hands with and hugged paramedics Mike Lynn, Dan Prezell and Mike Raasch and talked about the experience they shared one that included

Lynn performing CPR and twice shocking Stensrud s heart with a defibrillator to make it beat properly.

"It s not just a job, guys," Stensrud told the two paramedics. "You guys do it with passion, and you make a difference. You made a big freaking difference with me."

Stensrud and his wife, the parents of 5- and 3-year-old boys, were watching the televised NHL playoffs shortly before 11 p.m. May 13 when he started feeling uncomfortable. He d had similar pains before and actually was scheduled to undergo a cardiogram heart test the following morning.

When the pain grew more severe, Sandy Stensrud called 911. In less than 6 minutes, the Countryside ambulance crew was on the scene.

"I remember they got me into the ambulance right away," Stensrud recalled. "I didn t get too excited."

Sandy Stensrud said the scene was "like watching a movie, but we were in it."

Once in the ambulance, Lynn and Prezell hooked up Stensrud to a heart monitor that indicated he had a possible heart attack. Before they could head to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, however, Stensrud went into cardiac arrest. Lynn performed CPR and shocked his heart, bringing him back.

"Within 30 seconds he looked up and said, What did you guys just do to me? " Lynn said. "I didn t want to tell him because I didn t want to scare him."

Still, Stensrud knew he was in bad shape.

"On the ride there (Lynn) kept saying Stay with me, and that s when I could tell this was really, really serious," Stensrud said.

Raasch joined Lynn and Prezell in the ambulance before they left for Condell.

Stensrud went into cardiac arrest one more time before they arrived at the hospital, and once again the medics shocked his heart to re-establish a proper rhythm.

When they got to Condell, a cardiac team was waiting for them in the emergency room.

"It was just like ER, the TV show," Sandy Stensrud said.

Doctors found one of Stensrud s arteries was 95 percent blocked. They put in a stent, a stainless steel tube that keeps an artery open for proper blood flow. By Saturday afternoon, Stensrud was home.

Firefighters and paramedics help people every day but rarely are put into lifesaving situations. The men who met with the Stensruds on Tuesday recognized the significance of the visit.

"The fact that Al is sitting here with us is a success of the system," Fire Chief Jeff Steingart said.

Added Deputy Chief Kris Kazian: "This is what we train for."

Stensrud said he ll never forget what the paramedics did and said he ll always be grateful.

"That s food for our soul," Steingart responded.

As a token of their appreciation, the Stensruds gave the crew some beef loin, fresh from the butcher. Even if Hallmark made a "You saved my life when I had a heart attack" card, Sandy Stensrud said, no words exist to describe her feelings.

"I can t imagine (life) without them," she said. "God bless them."




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism, Cardiac and Circulation

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

University of Pittsburgh STAAMP Trial

Trauma experts launch tranexamic acid trial.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New York Ambulance Service Begins Using Power Cot

Service is first in county with new technology.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Traffic Cam Captures Wisconsin Ambulance Crash

Driver of ambulance cited for failing to operate safely.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Hospital Mourns Helicopter Crash Victims

TriState CareFlight pilot and crew killed in crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Moscow Subway MCI

At least 20 dead and 150 injured in subway derailment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On July 2014

Check out the latest products and innovations in JEMS.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Wounded Veteran Resiliency

Marine is one of many in quality of life study.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >