Emergency personnel are used to being called into action at any given time. It's not often, though, that they're called into action during church service, which is what happened Sunday during the 10 a.m. Mass at Holy Redeemer Church in Marshall.
A number of churchgoers with medical backgrounds quickly stepped in when an elderly man apparently suffered a heart attack during the service.
"My father-in-law is an usher and he alerted me that an older gentleman had gone down," said Marc Klaith, Marshall fire chief. "There were a number of people there helping. We got him to the back of the church so a lot of people didn't know anything had happened."
According to Rick Jueneman, certified registered nurse anesthetist at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, a traveling pediatrician was the first one to attend the man. Other medical personnel, including Jueneman, didn't hesitate to assist in the situation.
"It happened right near him," Jueneman said of the pediatrician. "Some people quickly stepped in. There were a couple of EMTs (emergency medical technicians) in church."
In addition to EMTs like Mike Minett, Klaith said that John Schaefer and other firemen also responded to the emergency, which highlights the selfless unity of small-town life.
"There were quite a few firemen and doctors in church," Klaith said. "(The man) got a lot of care in a short amount of time."
Jueneman said the man, thought to be a regular churchgoer, was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Later, in the emergency room, Jueneman reported that the man "was talking clearly and was going to get a CT scan for full evaluation."
"There were a significant number of people who stepped up," Jueneman said. "It was nice though to see that a guy can respond to CPR because you might be able to prolong someone's life."
Experts will tell you, Jueneman said, that you don't get to save a lot of lives doing CPR.
"You try, but a significant portion of people don't get revived," he said. "He happened to have the right people around him at the right time. This guy is going to have another chance."
Ironically, members of the Marshall Fire Department recently completed a refresher course on CPR.
"Everything was fresh," Klaith said. "He was in the right house, with the right people looking down on him."