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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sartell Save

Ernie Kociemba meets with the Sartell area responders who save his life.
The Sartell City Council took time out from a January meeting to honor a team of public safety responders who saved a man’s life. This “save” was a little different, as it involved both off-duty and on-duty responders from six different departments.

Ernie Kociemba was playing tennis with his brothers at the Fitness Evolution tennis bubble in Sartell on December 11 when he suddenly collapsed due to a heart attack. Off-duty Becker Police Officer Jonathon Batterberry and off-duty Wright County Deputy Dusty Miller were working out in another part of the health club, and each noticed that something was wrong when they saw people running. Batterberry wondered if it was his “policeman’s instincts.”

They responded to the tennis bubble and found Kociemba on the floor with no pulse and no respiration. Miller took over CPR from Kociemba’s brothers. Batterberry took over doing CPR while Miller set up the AED. The off-duty response continued to grow as Stearns County Deputy Zach Sorenson, Gold Cross Ambulance EMT Nancy Kalla, and Dan Williams from the St. Cloud Hospital trauma unit also assisted. A life-saving shock was administered to Kociemba just as Sartell police officers Shelby Lane and Kari Bonfield arrived to assist with oxygen. Kociemba responded to the shock and began to breathe on his own.

Sartell Police Chief Jim Hughes noted their “quick thinking, action, and calmness” when presenting each of them with the Life Saving Award. He also noted the contributions of the Gold Cross Ambulance crew and the staff at St. Cloud Hospital. Ernie Kociemba was at the ceremony, and the news reports said Mr. Kociemba was smiling as he said, “You see this big smile. It’s because of them.”

What happened that night in Sartell exemplifies so many attributes of Minnesota’s public safety community. Think of what came together that night: teamwork, common training and protocols, and a commitment to serving their communities and to helping people. That should make all of us smile. Good job, all!

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