There’s a hero in Hanley, Sask., who goes by the name Les Kroeger.
When a call came into Medavie Health Services West at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 5, he answered.
“Got the call from dispatch that there was somebody in town that needed medical assistance. We didn’t have a whole lot of information but fortunately, there was myself and another firefighter,” Kroeger said.
“This was a person right in their own residence.
“When we got there, we found the patient unresponsive. A family member had begun CPR. We came in with our knowledge and the equipment that we have, continued CPR and with the assistance of an AED machine. He was successfully resuscitated.”
Kroeger shocked the 67-year-old patient in cardiac arrest twice prior to the arrival of STARS air ambulance.
The patient was flown to Saskatoon and is currently stable in Royal University Hospital, according to Medavie.
“First responders are such a critical element in the chain of survival for rural communities,” Medavie spokesperson Troy Davies said in a statement on Friday.
“These are volunteers who respond to their neighbours and possibly family members in medical emergencies … (Kroeger’s) actions saved this man’s life.”
The 58-year-old Hanley native said this wasn’t the first life he’s saved but called the experience humbling.
“This is the first time that we’ve done a full cardiac arrest where we’ve had a full recovery from. So we have had respiratory arrest, we’ve had major trauma patients and whatnot, but the first full cardiac arrest,” Kroeger said.
“We respond to a lot of medical calls with our first responder group and through the fire department and when you get a call like this, there’s a lot of emotions get attached. So it’s humbling.
“It’s a whole bunch of different emotions, all piled up on top. You think back to calls that maybe didn’t go so good and you think back to calls that were just awesome calls like this one was.”
Kroeger has been a volunteer medical first responder in Hanley for over three decades.
“The program is run through the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) now. When I originally started, it was developed and introduced by MD Ambulance in Saskatoon back in the late 80s,” he said.
“I do it just because I feel a need to just help people that need help. It’s a way that I can help the community.
“Not everybody can do this. Not everybody has the ability, the time, the training. The time commitment is as much as you want to give it. We’re all just doing this as volunteers. We do have other lives. We’ve got our own families but to be able to help people that are in real need is just something that I’ve always strived to do.”
Kroeger said the volunteers respond to roughly 30 to 50 medical calls a year.
“We’re in one of those communities. We don’t have ambulance service, we don’t have a health-care facility here. So we’ve got a group of first responders who work as volunteers,” he said.
“We’ll have, often, about a 35-minute wait for an ambulance to come. So when the ambulance gets dispatched, we get dispatched.
“We pray that we never have to go on these calls … But you pray that when you do get to go on a call that you can do the job to the best of your ability.”
Kroeger is also the fire chief for the town approximately 60 km south of Saskatoon.