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Good deed repaid as stricken driver is resuscitated by driver he had helped

By Paul Walsh

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Published: Monday, Nov. 7 2011 10:22 p.m. MST

MINNEAPOLIS (MCT) — A Canadian motorist who suffered cardiac arrest while driving in western Wisconsin is probably alive today because of a good deed he had done for a stranger along the interstate just a few minutes earlier.

According to the Wisconsin State Patrol:

Victor Giesbrecht, 61, of Winnipeg, was driving east Saturday evening on Interstate 94, about 9 miles east of Menomonie, where he stopped to help a motorist change a tire.

His good deed accomplished and just moments after getting back behind the wheel, Giesbrecht was stricken. His wife, Ann, at his side helped bring their pickup truck to a stop.

Seemingly right on cue, along came the passenger vehicle that had just gotten the roadside help with the tire. Ann Giesbrecht was on the phone and waving her arms.

"It sounds like they said: They helped us, what's up with them?" Patrol Sgt. Michael Newton said Monday.

That vehicle stopped, 911 was called and one of its occupants, Sara Berg, of Eau Claire, Wis., began cardiopulmonary resuscitation until emergency personnel arrived.

A state trooper discovered that Victor Giesbrecht had no pulse and wasn't breathing. The trooper and a Dunn County deputy took over CPR, and a second deputy used an automated external defibrillator to deliver three shocks to Giesbrecht.

"He started having a pulse on his own and started breathing," said Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith.

A medical helicopter landed on the interstate and took Giesbrecht to Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. He was in serious condition Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"It was a team event" that saved Giesbrecht's life in a situation where "every minute counted," Smith said. "My deputy (who applied the defibrillator) said, 'I don't know why they are making such a big deal about it.'"

Newton believes that if the Giesbrechts hadn't stopped and helped with the tire change, his initial rescuer might have remained stranded along the side of the highway too long to play a life-saving role.

"If he had been a few more miles down the road ... it could have been a different outcome," Newton said. "It's an interesting turn of fate."

Newton added that the Dunn County deputy having an defibrillator on hand "was the tipping point" in saving Giesbrecht's life. "Without that defibrillator, I don't know that the outcome would've been the same," said the sergeant, who added that Giesbrecht had been similarly stricken about a year earlier.

(c)2011 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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