GREAT FALLS – On a snowy October afternoon of last year, Darin Kittleson had returned home early after hunting with a bow. With his ATV, he helped clear snow from his neighbor’s driveways, including that of Bill and Augie Records.
The Records were relaxing at home when Augie noticed something was wrong with her husband Bill. âAll of a sudden Bill was making these panting noises, about four of them, and pushing the recliner back, then nothing,â Augie said. “So I went to shake it several times and no response at all.”
Augie noticed Darin outside and got his attention. While Bill was in cardiac arrest, she called 911, Darin immediately took action: âI walked into the house and recognized that he was not breathing. He was very gray in color, âDarin said. âI just started CPR as best I could. The people from 911, dispatch, they were excellent, they helped us to correct our rhythms. “
Darin helped rescuers until enough emergency personnel were available to help Bill, who had suffered a heart attack a year earlier.
Advanced cardiac resuscitation measures were quickly put in place and Bill was placed on a monitor which identified a fatal arrhythmia requiring immediate electric shock.
Timing played a key role in the almost tragic event. âMy wife had to be there,â said Bill, 73. âI was not in the garage; I wasn’t doing anything else. It was the last day of archery season, I wasn’t archery hunting. I was there, Darin shows up at this precise moment.
The rapid emergency response was led by Dr Dustin Stewart, Emergency Physician at Benefis Health System and Medical Director of the Gore Hill Volunteer Fire Department, Belt Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Services of Great Falls.
On Tuesday, he presented Darin with a rescue award for his willingness to help so quickly. âIn the old versions of CPR, people used to do word-of-mouth and a lot of people are afraid to do it,â Dr. Stuart said. âRight now we’re insisting on ‘push hard, push fast’. Chest compressions alone can save lives. The big thing is the early intervention of 9-1-1. Get people to volunteer within your community or that professionals can come out to help.
Darin says he wasn’t looking for a price. He’s happy his longtime friend is here for another arc season. He hopes his actions will inspire others to learn CPR and thanks emergency responders.
âWe had so many people in just a few minutes that it was just amazing,â Darin said. âWe are fortunate to have the first responders that we have. “
âThere’s absolutely no question that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for these people who are volunteers and professionals at what they do,â Bill said.
Dr. Stuart encourages people to learn as much as possible about CPR. The American Red Cross provides training; Click here to find out more.