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Recognized by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for saving the life of Mike Gibson (center) were (l-r): Chris Costrini, Troy Grothman, Bob Tatum and Steve Tucker. Not pictured: Jonathan David. 

CPR device saves life

Mike Gibson of Brule celebrated his 65th birthday this year, a birthday he wasn’t sure he would get to see.

 Late last summer, on a blistering afternoon, Gibson was driving just east of Venango hauling corn when something didn’t feel right. 

He began experiencing what he knew to be heart attack symptoms: cold sweats, vomiting. While he never experienced massive pain, he said he felt fluttering. 

He called his boss, Cody Schrotberger, who asked if he needed an ambulance. 

“Yes,” he said. 

When Chris Costrini and EMT Troy Grothman with the Venango Fire Department arrived on scene, Gibson was conscious and answering questions. EMTs Steve Tucker and Jonathan David arrived on scene in a personal vehicle.  

Gibson said the last thing he remembers was telling Tucker, who was holding a pair of scissors, “Buddy, ya gotta do what you gotta do.”

Tucker was getting ready to cut Gibson’s double-knotted shoelaces to remove his shoes. Tucker explained shoes and socks are removed in cardiac situations to place electrodes on the feet and elsewhere for monitoring heart activity. 

On their way to Perkins County Health Services nearly 20 miles away, Grothman radioed the Grant ambulance who was at the hospital finishing up a previous call. Grothman called for the 12-lead electrocardiogram monitor and LUCAS chest compression system.

Halfway to the hospital, they met the Grant ambulance in Brandon and received the equipment. EMT Bob Tatum joined them.  

And then, on the afternoon of Aug. 1, 2018, Mike Gibson’s 64-year-old heart stopped beating. 

They shocked him once.

They shocked him again.

“We didn’t get much of a response from the shocks and knew we needed to get him to the hospital,” said Tucker. 

They put the LUCAS on, which performs chest compressions, and administered CPR until reaching the hospital. 

By the time they arrived, Gibson was beginning to make noises through his oxygen mask. He told the doctor his name and was answering questions in the ER. 

But the first thing Gibson remembers is waking up at Great Plains Health in North Platte, where he was told he had a heart attack. 

“I missed the helicopter ride, darn it. I’ve never flown in my life and I missed the helicopter ride,” he laughed.

Upon arriving in North Platte, Gibson was taken to the cath lab where a stent was placed.  

He remained hospitalized for six days, and was finally able to return to work after six months. 

The EMTs believe if it wasn’t for the LUCAS device, this story would have a different ending. Through donations and fundraising, the Venango Fire Department now has a LUCAS device of their own.  

The Perkins County Ambulance volunteers were recognized by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Office of Emergency Health Systems with certificates of appreciation for their lifesaving efforts. 

Nine months later, Gibson remains incredibly grateful to the EMTs and all who played a part in saving his life that day. 


The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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327 Central Ave in Grant
Grant NE 69140