Spirit EMS honors life saving crew


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — The Spirit Emergency Medical Services holiday party is always a fun time for the employees and ownership. It usually gives the administrative team an opportunity to share the new equipment the employees will be using in the coming year.

This year was no different when it came to the equipment. President/CEO Brian Hathaway pulled back the curtain to show the six new ambulances and two new buses as part of the reveal. They also had several new cots, lifts to help EMTs carry patients up and down stairs and lifts to help with geriatric patients.

The real suprise came when Hathaway introduced Eric Kruse. Some of those in attendance had met Kruse under different circumstances earlier in the year.

According to Hathaway, on July 15, at 8:41 p.m., Spirit EMS was dispatched by the Darke County Sheriff’s Office 911 Center to the campground at Eldora Speedway on a report of a male with chest pain. He said, “The Spirit EMS crew of Paramedic Beth Cuvar and Linda Smith initially responded and were on the scene within two minutes of dispatch. The crew arrives at the campsite and finds 61-year-old Eric Kruse sitting in a chair. He is found to be very pale, cool, and sweaty. He shares with the crew he had a cardiac stent placed six months prior and is having chest pressure with pain that he rates at an 8 on the 1 to 10 scale.”

As the crew was working on Kruse he went into a seizure and then took two final breaths before going into pulseless ventricular fibrillation. “Taking quick action, EMT Smith begins CPR on Mr. Kruse as Paramedic Cuvar prepares and subsequently shocks Mr. Kruse with the Lifepack 15 cardiac monitor. Shortly thereafter, deputies Fred Slade and Matt Spurlock arrive on scene. Darke County Deputy Fred Slade jumps in the driver’s seat of the Spirit ambulance and begins driving the Spirit ambulance towards another oncoming Spirit ambulance that’s been dispatched to assist. Spirit EMS Paramedic Ron Cruse jumps in the back of the ambulance and assists with chest compressions as other members of the crew were breathing for the patient. After two additional minutes of continued CPR, the patient was still in a shockable rhythm and Paramedic Cuvar shocked Mr. Kruze again. Compressions were continued for another two minutes, and then, upon checking for a pulse, the patient had regained a pulse, immediately awoke, and began answering questions asked of him of the crew,” said Hathaway. Because they were at Eldora Speedway, they had quick access to CareFlight. Spirit transported Kruse to the helicopter and turned over his care to Lindsey Heunen and Kaylee Simpson of Miami Valley’s CareFlight program and Pilot Jeff Pudil of CareFlight flew the patient and crew to Miami Valley Hospital where he underwent emergency heart surgery and was released four days later and has fully recovered without any loss of neurological function.

Hathaway recognized each of the individuals who assisted during the emergency with the Spirt Star of Life Award. Those individuals included Paramedics Elizabeth Cuvar and Ron Cruse with Spirit EMS, EMT Linda Smith with Spirit EMS, Deputy Fred Slade of the Darke County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Matt Spurlock of the Preble County Sheriff’s Office, Flight Nurses Lindsey Heunen and Kaylee Simpson of Miami Valley’s CareFlight Program, and Pilot Jeff Pudil of Miami Valley’s CareFlight Program.

Kruse said when he got the call from Hathaway to come to Greenville and to meet the individuals who took care of him, there was no way that he wasn’t coming. “I just finished up cardiac rehab on Tuesday. No heart damage, no brain damage, all due to the care I got.”

Kruse’s wife said she wanted to express her gratitude to the “trained, skilled people who were on site at Eldora Motor Speedway on July 15.” She noted they had been traveling in upstate New York “in the middle of nowhere” before arriving at Eldora, but chose to come here to be with their son at his camper. “God loves him so much, he waited until he got within less than a mile from life flight and ambulance and well-trained crew to keel over and have his heart attack.” She continued, “I wouldn’t have my husband, the children wouldn’t have their dad, the grandkids wouldn’t have their grandpa. What you guys are doing is so important.”

In past years, Spirit has honored an individual who has passed away and their picture was emblazoned on one of the memorial ambulances. This year’s picture will feature Kruse and the crew that saved his life.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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