By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - Quick thinking, coupled with skills and the right equipment on hand, is what helped the Howard Lake Ambulance team save the life of Don Drusch in April.
Howard Lake Ambulance responded to a 911 call at Drusch’s residence, and found him suffering from cardiac arrest.
Drusch if the father of Howard Lake Fire Chief Joe Drusch.
“We started CPR immediately upon arrival,” said Jeff Granrud, assistant ambulance director for Howard Lake Ambulance. “During CPR, we got him (Drusch) into a readable heart rhythm to utilize the AED (automated external defibrillator).”
Granrud explained that the AED will not shock some types of heart rhythms, so getting a patient into a rhythm that can be read by the AED is critical.
“Everything fell into place,” Drusch said. “I didn’t do anything, except tip over. They (the Howard Lake Ambulance) did everything right everything clicked.”
Drusch reported that he doesn’t think he has any damage from the near-death experience.
“I’m missing about a week of memory prior to tipping over, and I can’t remember some of the things they said I did while in cold storage at Abbott,” Drusch laughed. “But all of that is immaterial. Now I’m out working in my garden every day. Walking every day. Feeling good.”
In fact, Drusch attended some events during Good Neighbor Days, including watching the fishing contest and enjoying the pork chop dinner.
“Everyone in the area, who is served by the Howard Lake Fire and Ambulance Department should be very proud of what they do,” Drusch said. “I think they do just a marvelous job.”
Drusch operated a hardware store in the mid-1970s. He said that back then, he thought it was ridiculous how the firemen “tore” around town, but now he appreciates their efforts.
“That was when Joe Ostgulen was the chief,” Drusch said. “I told him, ‘I want just a smidgen of what you do to fire those guys up,’” to fire up his own employees, he laughed.
“If you’re not going to run when you’re called, then you shouldn’t be doing it,” Drusch said. “When that whistle blows, you better be there. Of course, nowadays there is no whistle because they all have pagers.”
New lifesaving equipment purchased
The newest lifesaving equipment that the Howard Lake Fire Department and Ambulance acquired three weeks ago is a Lucas device. It is an automated, power CPR machine that can continually perform CPR as long as necessary.
“It is an air-driven, mechanical CPR device,” explained Granrud, “that has a suction cup that is placed on the sternum so it depresses the chest and on the up-cycle it pulls the sternum back up so it can circulate blood better.”
This is the same machine that Buffalo Hospital used on Bud Dangers of Howard Lake in October when he too suffered cardiac arrest.
Granrud explained that initial CPR needs to be performed manually, and that this is a supplemental device.
“I’ve had to do CPR from here (Howard Lake) to Waconia and it is physically demanding,” Granrud said.
He also explained that proceeds from fundraisers such as the Good Neighbor Days four-wheeler raffle “create an avenue to make money to buy equipment that doesn’t fall into the fire department or ambulance budget.”
“We use the money to the best of our ability to get the necessities. We don’t do a lot of frivolous spending. We want the biggest impact to the community for the buck,” Granrud said.
“We’re excited to have AEDs stationed throughout town, and fortunate to have the Lucas device in the ambulance full-time,” Granrud explained. “If we get one save because of the machine, in my mind, it will have paid for itself.”