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Thursday
Mar032011

CPR Marathon: More Than Two Dozen Responders Resuscitate Neighbor for 96 Minutes

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(GOODHUE, Minn.) -- It's not very often Dr. Roger White uses the word "amazing." But when more than 20 first responders tirelessly performed CPR on a dying man for more than an hour and a half -- and saved his life -- the co-director of the Mayo Clinic's emergency transport team said it was nothing less than remarkable.

In the tiny, remote town of Goodhue, Minn., where the population is less than 1,000, Howard Snitzer, 54, was heading to buy groceries at Don's Foods when he crumpled to the sidewalk, suffering a massive heart attack.

While the grocery clerk called 911, the only customer in the store, an off-duty corrections officer, rushed to Snitzer's side and began what could be the longest, successful out-of-hospital resuscitation ever. Across the street, Roy and Al Lodermeier, of Roy and Al's Auto Service, heard the commotion and hurried over and started CPR on Snitzer.

As news spread, the numbers grew. The team of first responders in Goodhue is made up entirely of volunteers. In total, about two dozen pairs of hands worked to the point of exhaustion to save Snitzer's life in a CPR marathon.  The emergency volunteers took turns performing CPR on Snitzer for a marathon 96 minutes until paramedics arrived via helicopter.

Mary Svoboda, a Mayo Clinic flight nurse who flew in on the emergency helicopter, said "it was unbelievable. There were probably 20 in line, waiting their turn to do CPR. They just kept cycling through."

To restore a normal heartbeat, first responders shocked Snitzer's heart 12 times and administered intravenous drugs. When they finally felt a pulse, Snitzer was airlifted to the Mayo Clinic. After 10 days, he was released from the hospital -- miraculously healthy, and incredibly grateful.

"My heart wasn't pumping anything, so the only thing that was pumping my blood was those guys doing CPR," he said.

Snitzer, a relatively new addition to Goodhue, reunited with those who worked to save his life on Tuesday at the town's fire station.

"I think it's the quality of the person," he said. "We're in small-town America, hard-working people. I happened to have a king-size heart attack in the right place and the right time, and these guys would not give up."

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