Keith Torgerud and the rest of his team were about five miles into a recent Tough Mudder race challenge in Richmond, Illinois, when they heard members of another race team yelling and saw that they had their arms crossed above their heads -- “the official signal” that they needed medical assistance, according to a recent story in the LaCrosse Tribune.
Told that someone from that other team was having an asthma attack, Torgerud, director of respiratory care services at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, Wis., and the rest of his team -- his wife, Angie; fellow respiratory therapist Tom Di Iorio and Will Schanhofer, M.D., a family medicine physician, from Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare; Chad Thurman, M.D., a former Mayo Clinic resident; and Stephanie Holmes, a trained nurse -- sprang into action. “I ran up there as fast as I could, because I can help somebody with their breathing,” Torgerud tells the Tribune. “He was in definite distress. Then he started having a seizure, went pulseless and quit breathing.”
Torgerud and his team members began giving the man CPR while they waited for medics to arrive. “We got him back once, then he went pulseless again,” he tells the paper. Finally, after local medics arrived on-scene with an automated external defibrillator, Torgerud says, “we shocked him, and he came back.”
Torgerud temporarily excused himself from the race to accompany the man and the medics to a waiting ambulance. “I went with the medics just to make sure they knew what happened,” he tells the paper. “The race was the last thing I was thinking about at that point. The needs of the patient always come first, and in that moment, I saw him as my patient.” As did Dr. Schanhofer, who tells the paper, “As a provider, I have a responsibility to help others even when I’m not at the hospital or clinic. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Once satisfied the patient was safely on his way to a hospital, Torgerud rejoined his team to finish the race. And while they may not have won that race, Torgerud says he and his team were happy to hear they had won the race to help save their fellow contestant’s life. They learned later in the day that their fellow tough mudder was recovering well. It was an unexpected, yet thrilling victory that both Torgerud and Dr. Schanhofer tell the Tribune was made much easier thanks to the “quick availability” of the AED device they were able to use. “Our whole team did a great job,” Torgerud says. “It was a good collaborative effort.”
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