Coffee sounded good that July morning.
Kootenai Health employee Sean Liebelt and his bride-to-be had just grabbed their morning brew and were headed to Sean’s parents’ house when they saw a man lying on the side of a remote road in Hayden. Passersby waved to indicate the man was injured.
“I recognized he was in cardiac arrest and started doing CPR,” Sean said. “We would get pulses back and lose the pulses again until the fire department arrived about seven minutes later.”
Sean, 29, has worked in patient and equipment transport services at Kootenai Health for a year. He was a paramedic for seven years before starting at Kootenai. His training was put to use that morning as the jogger, Kevin, who requested his last name be withheld, was admitted to critical care.
“To be there soon enough, by happenstance, and to know what to do when I got there, gave him a second cha nce at life because of everyone’s efforts,” Sean said. “Having CPR started quickly is really a benefit. He definitely has guardian angels looking out for him.”
Sean watched as first responders rushed away with Kevin.
“I had no idea if he’d be alive,” Sean said.
From his hospital room, Kevin expressed his gratitude for the swift work of kind strangers.
“I can tell you I’m grateful to be here,” he said.
His wife, Eryn, said he has no memory of collapsing. He was out for a jog, then he was in the hospital.
With no previous health issues, “I expected him to be right back from his run like he always is,” she said.
“It’s kind of hard to wrap your mind around, the way the events played out,” Eryn said. “We are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we really feel like Jehovah had His eye on Kevin that morning. It’s
nice to see, in this world where there’s so much division, that there is still good.”
Both said the
y’re thankful for the care provided by Kootenai Health’s nurses.
“It really takes a special kind of person to do the job that they do,” Eryn said.
They are also “forever grateful” that Sean arrived on scene when he did.
“I truly feel like having him there was the key. That is why we’re even able to have this conversation,” Eryn said.
After some recovery time, Kevin asked his nurses if he could connect with Sean to thank him for saving his life. As a paramedic, Sean said, you don’t ever get to see the other side of an emergency. He was honored to meet the wife and family and see Kevin in a much better condition than he was found.
“It doesn’t happen to you very often,” said Sean, who has since married his bride. “It’s really a neat job to be able to impact people’s lives.”
Sean’s supervisor, patient and equipment transport manager Shawn Sundberg, said “it was so nice hearing that one of my employees had done such a great deed.”
“It wasn’t surprising,” Shawn said. “In our fast-paced lives, it’s nice to know Sean paused to notice someone needed help. Sean is that kind of employee. His background and training prepared him to respond in that moment. In a world filled with anxiety, fear and hate, it’s nice to know good Samaritans are still among us.”
This incident served as a vivid reminder that “miracles happen every day in our life,” Sean said.
“Whether we see them right in front of us or not, we always need to be appreciative of them.”