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Avera Medical Minute: Coordinated emergency care in rural communities saves lives

Published: Feb. 14, 2021 at 9:11 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - There are two hobbies Ron Thompson enjoys; showing horses and photography. His dog Rip is often by his side for both.

“The sun had just gone down and I thought well that’s a really cool picture and I started back to the truck and I remember thinking, man, this could be...this might be the last picture I ever take because it was starting to feel kind of funny,” said Thompson.

The chest pressure was nearly overwhelming, so he called his wife Becky.

“I think I’m in a lot of trouble you better call 911,” said Thompson.

His dog Rip licked his face to keep him alert while Ron navigated the narrow country roads toward Wessington Springs. Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital staff ran to meet him in the parking lot.

“And they rolled me inside and I thought everything was gonna be okay,” said Thompson.

“He was sitting there and all of a sudden he goes, I’m leaving you now and he did,” said Becky.

Avera nurse and trauma coordinator Kendra Fastnacht was part of the ER team.

“You know that day with him everybody just pitched right in and did their things. And I still believe, to this day, that there was some divine intervention from up above,” said Fastnacht.

“One of the nurses start CPR on him, and then they got the LUCAS machine out,” said Becky.

A LUCAS device can save a life. The battery-operated device can perform check compressions for over a half-hour.

“It’s like having another person in the room, providing those compressions,” said Fastnacht.

“I looked up and everybody had tears in their eyes and I said what’s, why is everybody so sad, you know I made it okay. And they said, well we just shocked you back to life,” said Thompson.

Everything was happening quickly to save Ron’s life. The next step was a Careflight to Sioux Falls. Anna Vanden Bosch is the Avera director of clinical operations at Careflight.

“We have registered nurses on board and paramedics, but they work as a team and they are just such a fantastic team and complement each other so nicely,” said Vanden Bosch.

A Careflight membership, which covers the cost of the flight was just purchased for Ron as a gift. It became effective the very same day he needed it.

“Being allowed to serve these patients and state of the art equipment by transporting them, their families allowing us and trusting us to take them and transport them like that... is just, it is the why of everything that I do and everybody on our team,” said Vanden Bosch.

Ron’s procedure at the Avera Heart Hospital was done before Becky could drive to Sioux Falls.

“We got as far as Mitchell and the doctor called and said, this stents been placed, and they’re taking him up to the room. By the way he’s tested positive for COVID so you won’t be able to see him. So we turned around and we went back,” said Becky.

The couple was reunited when Ron was released from the hospital...grateful for a new lease on life to spend with his family.

“Now I’m going to get to spend time with them that I certainly wouldn’t have,” said Thompson.

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