Rec Center defibrillator saves Mitchell man's lifeThis was the first time the Medtronic Lifepak defibrillator has been used at the Mitchell Recreation Center since it was installed about five years ago.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Wayne Klinger, 71, continues to amaze everyone at the Mitchell Recreation Center.
On Monday, Klinger and his wife, Janet, brought the center’s staff a bouquet of flowers with Lifesaver candies — a thank you for the quick response that saved his life following a March 29 heart stoppage he suffered during a workout at the center.
“We brought the Lifesavers because you guys were my lifesaver,” Klinger told staff members.
That first recovery would have been enough to deal with, but Klinger had only just returned home after being airlifted to Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls on Thursday following a second heart episode.
“A piece of plaque came loose and blocked an artery the first time, but the second one was a full-blown heart attack with intense pain,” Klinger said. “They found out that a stent they inserted the first time had plugged.”
An additional stent fixed things.
Klinger raved about the automated external defibrillator, or AED, that saved his life following the workout incident.
“I advocate that every public building have one of these devices and know how to use them,” Klinger said Monday. “Frankly, I might not be here if this place didn’t have one.”
Recreation Center Director Rob Marchand said his staff used the AED to restore Klinger’s heartbeat while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
“It was a team effort,” Marchand said.
Each device costs around $1,200, and because the defibrillator battery is only for one-time use, it and the shock pads have to be replaced.
Klinger, a regular at the center, was in the weight room doing his morning workout when he collapsed at one of the machines.
Another patron quickly alerted staff and while a 911 call went out, Marchand ran to evaluate Klinger’s condition.
With the help of other people who were working out nearby, Klinger was moved to a firm, flat surface, and Assistant Director Jamie Henkel began CPR while Marchand retrieved the defibrillator.
Henkel was the right person for the job, Marchand said.
“Jamie has been with us about six months, and she had just finished doing CPR training with our lifeguards.” The center’s staff receives regular CPR training from the Mitchell Fire Division, he said.
Henkel quickly put the AED’s paddles on Klinger’s bare chest. The device automatically monitors its subject, and if necessary, administers a shock to restore a regular heartbeat.
It was necessary in Klinger’s case, and the AED shocked him until it got a pulse, Marchand said.
“It shocked him once, and then we found a pulse and he took one huge breath,” Henkel said. “I know I have been sleeping a lot better since I saw his face again.”
Henkel said this was the first time the Medtronic Lifepak defibrillator has been used at the Mitchell Recreation Center since it was installed about five years ago.
“It’s an incredible piece of equipment,” Marchand said.
An artificial electronic voice on the AED tells the user exactly how to proceed and where to place the electronic paddles on the victim’s chest.
“It gives you step-by-step instructions and walks you right through it,” Marchand said.
Klinger wasn’t conscious, but by the time the paramedics rolled him out of the center, the defibrillator had re-established a regular pulse. He was flown to Sioux Falls for further treatment.
Remarkably, Klinger walked into the Rec Center the next Monday, ready for a light workout. That was prior to his second, more serious episode, and Klinger said he was feeling remarkably good.
“It was a pretty emotional experience for all of us when he walked through that door,” Marchand said.
The staff was still mourning the loss of 9-year-old Iszabella “Bella” Morgan, who died March 24 when an allegedly drunken driver trying to elude police ran into the vehicle carrying her. She was a regular visitor at the center and was a student next door at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary.
Klinger’s remarkable recovery gave everyone at the center a much-needed boost, Marchand said.
“We went from one extreme to the other in just about a week.”
Klinger likes to stay busy. A former owner of Business Products Inc. in Mitchell, he still works part-time as a salesman for BPI.
Up until his collapse at the center, he had always enjoyed good health.
“I never had an issue with my heart,” he said. “I had good blood pressure, low cholesterol and since my 40s I worked out at the center five days a week.”
He plans to take it slower until he completes his cardiac rehab program, but he believes his experience can help others.
“For me, all the right people were in the right place at the right time. My goal is to encourage people to get busy and get these AEDs in all their buildings and have someone trained to use them.
“I mean, how do you put a value on human life?”
The Daily Republic’s Chris Huber contributed to this story.