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WPD officers, Sanford Worthington medics recall successful revival effort

WORTHINGTON -- A "textbook call" is how a team of first responders would agreeably sum up a unique June 12, 2017 unresponsive call that resulted in the revival of an adult male.

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Sanford Worthington EMTs Lisa Barkeim and James Limmer helped save a man's life last June with a LUCAS device. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - A “textbook call” is how a team of first responders would agreeably sum up a unique June 12, 2017 unresponsive call that resulted in the revival of an adult male.  

“It happened just the way it should have,” said 23-year Sanford Worthington Emergency Medical Technician veteran Lisa Barkeim, one of a five-member response team comprised of EMTs and Worthington police officers.

There were many factors that led to the seamless response in what could have been a panicked event. While the response team agreed there was a certain amount of luck - which included impeccable timing - it also involved a lot of experience, skill and teamwork from Barkeim, Sanford Worthington EMT James Limmer, Worthington Police Department Dispatcher Hannah Huls and officers Kirk Honius, Dan Brouillet and Chris Hillesheim.

Honius, Brouillet and Hillesheim were recently recognized and received a department-given award - the Worthington Police Department Life Saving Award - for their life-saving actions. On Feb. 7, they were presented plaques and red pins to adorn their blue uniform.

“You probably couldn’t have three guys come to a call that would be more willing to help than those three,” WPD Capt. Kevin Flynn said.

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Responders agreed it would be difficult to forget the call, which began at 5 a.m. when family members were shocked to find a loved one unresponsive on the floor.

The teamwork effort began the instant dispatcher Huls initiated a response.

Honius was able to respond within three minutes of the call. He immediately used the portable defibrillator that had recently been upgraded from an older, outdated version.

Officers Brouillet and Hillesheim were close behind and tag-teamed manual chest compressions and rescue breathing.

Just on their heels were Barkeim and Limmer, who were a wonderful sight for the officers to see, as they carried the LUCAS device - a battery-powered machine that automatically performs chest compressions on a patient.

“It gets pretty tasking just doing chest compressions,” Hillesheim said. “So I’m glad (Sanford) got that LUCAS device. That’s a lifesaver when it comes down to it.”

Sanford Worthington has three LUCAS devices - two in ambulances and one in the emergency department. The first two were received in late 2016 thanks to a Mission Lifeline grant administered by the Minnesota Department of Health/Office of Rural Health and Primary Care on behalf of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

A backboard is placed under a patient, and a piston does the work.

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“It frees up your hands so you can do other things that you need to do,” Limmer said.

Sanford Worthington Ambulance Service Manager David McNab said the device is designed to do compressions at the rate and ratio that supplies the best possible outcome for the patient.

“No matter how good a person can deliver CPR, this device takes the guesswork out of it and provides that consistent, proper compression,” McNab said.

Hillesheim said it was an amazing teamwork experience being able to witness the return of circulation to the male’s body.

“It’s one of the best outcomes we’ve had in a while,” Hillesheim said.

The officers were quick to comment how wonderful the LUCAS device and other technology has been to the service in Worthington. However, no technology can completely substitute the amount of experience the team has acquired.

Flynn said Honius - with 28 years on the department, 17 EMT and 21 years fire department experience - is the department’s most veteran officer.

“He’s a good partner, and people know when Kirk shows up there’s going to be good help provided,” Flynn commended. “He’s a very competent, capable officer.”

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Hillesheim - 13 years on the department and 21 years EMT experience - is also one of the department’s veteran officers, Flynn added.

“He’s also our safety officer and maintains a good record of safety issues with the PD,” Flynn said.

Brouillet, the school resource officer, has been with the department for five years.

“It doesn’t surprise that me if he’s going from school to school and he hears a call like that, he’s on it in a minute and asking what the guys need help with,” Flynn said.

Flynn said the WPD has developed its award recognition program to honor deserving officers and citizens.

Supervisors will review nominations it receives from officers or individuals. Flynn and Chief Troy Appel also review nominations before awards are officially handed out.

Flynn said the department’s award program is something WPD Police Chief Troy Appel has made a huge effort ensuring recognition is given where it’s deserved.

“We need to recognize the good work of the people we have here,” Flynn said.

After many months of reflection, the response team attributes a few key factors to its success.

Timing - which is always of the essence - was impeccable in this situation.

“Within eight minutes we had three police officers and two paramedics working on this guy, which is pretty impressive,” Honius said.

“If it would have been five to 10 minutes later, he would have been gone,” Hillesheim added.

The officers and ambulance staff also commented about the rapport the two first-response agencies have developed.

“The PD responds to all medical calls in town, so there’s a good working relationship and things are done without having to be asked or told to do,” Honius said.

Barkeim and Limmer agreed.

“It’s very nice to have another pair of hands, and it’s nice that they’re out patrolling and can get their first,” Limmer said.

That provides the medics some vital information prior to arriving, which proved to make all the difference for one man and his family.

“We knew what we had to do when we got on scene,” Barkeim said.

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