‘One lucky guy’
When making a trip to the Spirit Lake Casino in mid-January, Rugby’s Arden Warner was hoping for some luck.
What he received is more luck and good fortune that he ever could have hoped for, but it didn’t come in the form of a big jackpot.
Warner, a Rugby City Council member, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, with his heart stopping almost instantly.
But the heroic efforts a Benson County deputy, and a Lakota EMT, both off duty, used CPR to help save the 63-year-old’s life.
“He is one lucky guy,” said Linda Warner, Arden’s wife. “For those two to be in the position they were in, it’s unbelievable.”
Warner wasn’t gambling, but in fact was there for a business meeting, when his heart stopped and he crashed into a pillar head first.
Tami Bulik, a EMT with the Lakota Ambulance Service, was notified by a security guard who knew her from her time working at the casino.
After realizing Warner didn’t have a pulse, she immediately started doing compressions, while Deputy Marvin Holweger went into the casino to get an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
Warner remembers almost nothing about the incident, and was put into an induced coma after doctors were concerned about the extent of the head injury he suffered in the fall.
“Absolutely nothing,” he said. “I had no warning at all. I don’t remember, to be truthful, a lot of that day. It may have been from hitting my head on that pillar.”
As Warner lay still on the ground, Bulik’s training kicked in and she started the process that would eventually save Warner’s life.
“Sounds like I started giving directions and telling people what to do,” she said. “Keep the compressions going. Keep CPR going immediately too.”
Linda Warner said that 88 percent of the people in the same situation her husband was in don’t make it.
“I don’t know the statistics, but what it is rare is that they live,” Bulik said.
But on Jan. 15, the odds were in Warner’s favor.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ve never been really lucky, but that day luck was on my side,” he said. “The odds just aren’t there of something like that happening again.”
On March 19, Warner got to thank his rescuers in a surprise ceremony at the Benson County Courthouse.
Both Holweger and Bulik were awarded with the “Heart Saver Hero” award presented by the American Heart Association.
“(That) was the first time I met them,” said Warner, who gave big hugs to both the award recipients. “You don’t know what to say.”
It was also a special day for Bulik, a 20-year veteran EMT.
“It was very nice to meet Arden,” she said. “He and his wife are a couple of special people to me from now on.”
Warner said although he isn’t quite back to his old self, he’s recovered very well from the cardiac arrest.
“I’ll tell you what, after being as lucky as I have, I can’t complain about anything,” he said. “I’ve got some follow-ups coming. For what it could’ve been I’m doing dang good.”
Bulik is continuing her efforts to make CPR widespread throughout the state, and Linda Warner, a longtime nurse, has joined her in advocating that cause.
“I’ve been pushing really hard to bring heart safe communities into North Dakota,” Bulik said. “We’re looking to make Lakota the first heart-safe community in the state.”
It’s a program that is also being attempted in Rugby and Linda Warner referenced a bill in the state legislature which would give funding to schools who trained their students CPR before graduation.
“Like Tami said, what a community needs to do, you need 80 percent of your community to know CPR,” she said.
Bulik said Warner is just one example of how valuable CPR training can be.
“It’s hard to explain it I guess,” she said. “It’s kind of heartwarming that all the training we’ve done for years finally made the difference.”
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