Herald & Journal Health/Medical Section, July 20, 1998

Fred Entinger: miracles do happen

By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS

The evening of February 29, 1996 had been an enjoyable one.

Fred (Fritz) and Dorothy Entinger of Winsted had celebrated her birthday with a friend by going out to supper.

"We talked and laughed and had a good time," Dorothy said.

They settled down for the evening and were getting ready for bed when, about 11:15 that night, Fred sat up in bed and said 'I don't feel good.'

Then, suddenly his heart stopped. Fred had died - for awhile.

At age 80, Fred does well for a man that doctors held no hope for; a man who was not supposed to live or, if he did, function again.

When Fred collapsed, Dorothy grabbed the phone and dialed 911.

"They wanted me to stay on the line, so I grabbed the portable so I could unlock the door," she said.

In the short time it took for her to walk down the hall and towards the door, Winsted Police Officer Tim Langenfeld and Matt Quast had arrived.

By chance, Quast was riding along with Langenfeld that night, and both were also Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).

"Fred was laying on the bed and he was purple," Quast said.

They moved him to the floor and Langenfeld got the oxygen tank from the squad car and administered the oxygen while Quast did the chest compressions.

A few minutes later, the First Responders were at the scene, followed by the Winsted Ambulance.

Dorothy will be forever grateful to all the emergency service people for their quick response.

"If it wasn't for them, Fred wouldn't be alive. And if he was, he wouldn't be as good as he is now," Dorothy said. "They did a super job. I always thought they should get some kind of award."

According to First Responder Paul Herbolsheimer, Fred was in full cardiac arrest.

"We came in with our defibrillator and airway management equipment. The ambulance crew also came in with their defibrillator," he said.

The First Responders continued CPR until the ambulance crew arrived, keeping the oxygenated blood moving through his body.

Without oxygen to the brain, clinical death begins in four to six minutes.

The ambulance crew and First Responders used the defibrillator on Fred.

"We got a pulse and then lost it," Herbolsheimer said. "We had to shock him several times."

Dorothy said the ambulance EMTs and First Responders worked on Fred for probably 45 minutes before he was stable enough to transport to Waconia.

Fred remained in the intensive care unit (ICU) and on a respirator for six days, and five doctors held no hope that he would live.

"They did several brain scans and we were told he was 99 percent brain dead," Dorothy said.

Although he could only occasionally breathe on his own, Dorothy and her six sons agreed to remove the respirator and give their husband and father a peaceful death.

It was a lesson in human fallibility and human strength.

The doctors were wrong, Fred did not die.

Instead, seven days after his heart stopped beating, he gradually began to wake up and was taken from ICU to spend three more days in a regular hospital room.

"I have no memory of anything," Fred said. "No sensation, nothing until I woke up.

"I was wide awake and trying to figure out where I was. I thought I was at the creamery in Winsted. I didn't have any pain, and I was wondering why they were going through all this trouble because I had no idea anything was wrong," he said.

Ten days after his heart stopped, Fred was released from Waconia Ridgeview Hospital and took up residence for three and a half weeks at St. Mary's Care Center in Winsted.

Dorothy and her daughter-in-law picked Fred up from the hospital.

"My daughter-in-law was driving and we were coming around Lake Waconia and Fred said 'fishing,'" Dorothy recalled.

She almost stopped the car because that was the first word he had said in 10 days.

At St. Mary's, Fred was to undergo all forms of therapy ­ speech, physical, and occupational ­ which would reteach him how to feed and dress himself.

The doctors predicted that, despite therapy, Fred would get no better than he was when he left the hospital.

Again, the doctors were wrong.

"Those gals (therapists) really worked hard with Fred," Dorothy said. In three and a half weeks, Fred was able to come home.

"We had booked a room at St. Mary's to have an Easter party. Well, the day before Easter the the doctor asked Fred what he wanted to do, and he said he wanted to go home. The doctor asked me if I could take care of him and I said 'Sure,'" Dorothy said.

At home, Fred picked up where he left off. "When I do dishes, Fred always wipes, and the first day he was home I was washing dishes and he picked up the towel. I cried," Dorothy said.

A lingering effect of Fred's heart attack is that he has lost his short term memory, but he takes it with good humor.

"What you don't know can't hurt you," he said with a laugh.

Otherwise, Fred feels "about normal" and can do almost everything he did prior to the heart attack. "I can't do heavy lifting, but when you get to be 80 . . ."

Dorothy and family are grateful that the doctors were wrong in so many ways. "It is a miracle," she said.

After the heart attack, Dr. Steven Mulder happened to see Fred near his office. He too, called Fred the "Miracle Man."


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