Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Nebraska City celebrates life saver awards

  • Moments after his fiance pinned a badge on his shirt, Nebraska City's new paramedic manager Andrew Snodgrass looked over an overflowing crowd at city hall and talked about recent heart attacks and sudden heart death with a bit of joy.“The last five victims are alive today,” he said. “The patients ran...
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  • Moments after his fiance pinned a badge on his shirt, Nebraska City's new paramedic manager Andrew Snodgrass looked over an overflowing crowd at city hall and talked about recent heart attacks and sudden heart death with a bit of joy.
    "The last five victims are alive today," he said. "The patients ranged in ages from 16 to 63 and all had CPR started within three minutes after their cardiac arrest times. All five went home to their families," he said.
    Snodgrass and former Paramedic Manager Rodney Turpel delivered Lifesaver Awards to Nebraska City police, the Otoe County Sheriff's Office, Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Tom Giffee, flight paramedic Chad Poggemeyer and Steinhart pool lifeguards.
    Ree Shirley, a high school secretary, rose to speak about when her heart stopped at the Speedee Mart in May.
    She has only spotty memories of the minutes that followed her collapse, but remembers being awake in a hospital where someone was asking if she would donate her internal organs.
    Her heart was normal, in that it she did not suffer from heart disease, but she said a medicine she was taking for arthritis triggered the heart failure.
    She also remembers seeing Turpel, who has nurtured Nebraska City's paramedic emergency services through its infancy.
    "I saw a look of determination in his face that I think I've never seen before. I say, I hope to never see it again," she said, glancing over with a respectful smile to where Turpel stood.
    Shirley said she has since learned that only 2 percent of sudden heart death victims survive and of those initial survivors, six percent die later in the hospital.
    "The doctors told me that I should not have survived, that a miracle had taken place," she said.
    "I asked how I had been so lucky, and the answer was 'response time'," she said.
    Turpel was at the firehouse a few blocks away when the 9-1-1 call came in and he and Firefighter Dave Holland arrived at Shirley's side in a about a minute and a half. She was revived within five minutes.
    Shirley surprised Turpel Monday with her ability to remember him.
    She said it was Turpel's look of determination and the faces of all her friends in Nebraska City that stuck with her.
    "I could've been surrounded by a team of doctors, but I know I fought so hard because it was my family and my friends behind me," she said.
    Earlier, Nebraska City EMS revived a patient who went into cardiac arrest while in transport to a Lincoln hospital and later responded to a residence to revive a 63-year-old woman had a possible stroke and was in cardiac arrest.
    Then a man in his mid-30s was playing volleyball at the End Zone. Some say he was hit in the chest by a volleyball and left the court only to collapse in the hallway of the bar. Turpel arrived with a Nebraska City fire engine and the man was revived under CPR.
    Page 2 of 2 - Snodgrass said it is unprecedented for Nebraska City to have five cardiac patients saved in a row.
    The fifth patient, 16-year-old Max Odioo (Radke) of Nebraska City, is a frequent swimmer at Steinhart Pool.
    On July 28 he was trying to see how far he could swim without taking a breath, but realized something was wrong.
    Lifeguard Alex Boyce noticed Radke struggling to get out of the water and ran up to him.
    "I asked if he was okay but he was pretty much unresponsive," Boyce said.
    In the next moments, Radke's heart stopped and Boyce was dialing 9-1-1.
    Chad Poggemeyer, a flight paramedic and respiratory therapist, happened to be swimming at the pool that day. He and 19-year-old Lifeguard manager Dan Madsen started CPR. State Trooper Tom Giffee also responded.
    Madsen said all the lifeguards are trained in CPR.
    "Any one of us could have done it," Madsen said. "It just happened we were the ones there at the time.
    "The real reward is just seeing Max up and walking," he said.
    Radke said Monday that it was great to see the people who saved his life receive the awards.
    He is recovering well, with exercises and some Advil, but said his plans to play football for his junior year of high school have been set aside.
    In presenting the award to the Nebraska City Fire Department, Turpel said it was just three years ago that rescue and fire were autonomous agencies.
    "Today, the fire department responds on every emergency services call in the city," he said. "It's been critical, it's given us the ability to have days like this, when we can give lifesaver awards."
    Nebraska City EMS now has two duty teams assigned for every hour of the day. If there is a third call, they attempt to dispatch an ambulance finishing a call at the hospital. In situations where there is a fourth or fifth call, Turpel said, firefighters may respond alone and mutual aid can be called from Sidney or Talmage.
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