Emergency responders honored for saving cardiac arrest victim


Emergency responders honored for saving cardiac arrest victim

MISSOULA, Mont. - People in Superior honored a group of emergency responders for saving a woman's life in early June.

It happened in Mineral County past the old Diamond Match Mill on Trout Creek. A woman went into cardiac arrest, but the quick actions of her loved ones and emergency responders resuscitated her.

An ambulance executive told NBC Montana that in his 30 years working, the recent emergency was only the second one he's seen when CPR and rescue efforts worked, and saved an unconscious victim.

The incident happened on June 17. Karen Schwartzkopf fainted in her home and her husband and daughter went to see what happened and realized she wasn't breathing.

"When she went down, we rolled her over to try to get her attention. We knew she wasn't breathing; she started gasping a little bit and we started CPR to get her some breath to see if that would help," said her husband, David Schwartzkopf.

Their daughter called 911 right away. As soon as the ambulance arrived, EMTs went straight to work. Karen was out for 17 minutes until they used the defibrillator, which brought her back to life.

"We're happy as all get out for it. The EMT that hooked up the equipment hadn't had it revive anybody before," said ambulance driver Robert Kenyon.

The medical director for Superior Ambulance explains that this just doesn't happen often.

"This takes so many trained individuals and so many knowledgeable individuals to each put the chain of life, the pieces together in order to make somebody's heart restart once it stops," explained Superior Ambulance Medical Director Karyn Thornton.

She said that in the hospital there is a 60-percent chance of survival when restarting someone's heart, but there is only a 5-percent chance of survival when a person's heart stops before they get to the hospital. The Schwartzkopfs couldn't be more grateful.

"I'm blessed, that's all I can say. I know the ambulance people were phenomenal because they had defibrillate me getting here and going down to Missoula," said Karen Schwartzkopf.

"I got my wife, that's all I care about," said husband David.

The medical director for Superior Ambulance Services told NBC Montana that when someone is defibrillated, the chance goes down about 7 percent per minute that the rescue will be a success.

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