Firefighters, nurse receive commendations for saving man's life in Long Grove
As a Long Grove Fire Protection District crew participated in continuing education for cardiac arrest protocols, they quickly received a chance to test their knowledge for that very medical emergency when a man sounded his truck's horn at the station's garage doors seeking help last month.
Chief Robert Turpel issued commendations Monday night to his firefighters and the registered nurse who was providing the cardiac arrest training for saving the life of Christopher Loeber, 58, of Long Grove. Turpel said it's uncommon for someone to drive to the fire station for help.
"Literally, the stars and everything else lined up," Turpel said as a grateful Loeber and his wife, Sharon, sat in the audience for the ceremony.
Loeber said he was heading to work at his family's automobile dealership in Lincolnwood on July 16 when he began having breathing problems. After finding his rescue inhaler empty while stopped at a traffic signal near Long Grove Road and Route 53, he continued east.
Unable to speak, Loeber said he decided against calling 911 and figured the firehouse was his best shot for help. He went from eastbound Route 53 onto Robert Parker Coffin Road, then south down Old McHenry Road to the downtown Long Grove fire station.
"I was literally arching out of my seat because I couldn't breathe and went into cardiac arrest in the process," he said. "My heart was going. I could feel piercing pain."
He pulled his four-wheel-drive GMC truck with 35-inch tires in front of the Old McHenry Road fire station's doors at about 10:10 a.m.
"I put it in park and I laid on the horn," Loeber said. "And that's the last thing I remember."
Elizabeth Keane, the nurse who is an emergency medical services coordinator for Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital near Lake Barrington, said she was in the middle of the class on cardiac arrest protocols when she and the firefighters heard the horn and reacted.
In his commendation, Turpel said Battalion Chief John Jaworski and firefighters William Eisner, Greg Hanik, Jake Gross and Tyler Gates left the training, placed Loeber on a stretcher and started working on him while moving him into an ambulance. Turpel said the ambulance returned from a call about 10 minutes before Loeber arrived.
"You had one of the best teams here," Keane told Loeber. "And I teach everywhere. And these guys were Johnny on the spot and well oiled and it went just like it does through training."
CPR and advanced life support were provided to Loeber, who was without a pulse for possibly up to three minutes. Turpel, who credited the team effort that "resulted in the saving of a precious life," said Loeber's pulse returned with adequate cardiac output on the way to Good Shepherd,
Loeber, who has contended with heart problems since 2006, expressed his gratitude for being alive and with his wife and children.
"What you guys do, there's just not enough thanks," Loeber said. "I mean, you guys earn every penny you make."
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% to 90% of those who suffer cardiac arrest die before reaching a hospital. Cardiac arrest is sudden loss of the heart's function.