Life’s Reflections: Lifesavers Honored At Christmas Party

Eric Kruse, fourth from left, is flanked by the Spirit crew which saved his life in July. They are, from left, Lindsey Heunen, Kaylee Simpson, Fred Slade, Eric Kruse, Terri Cruse, Beth Cuvar, Linda Smith and Ron Cruse. (Linda Moody photo)

I had the honor of attending Spirit Medical Transport’s Christmas program this year on Dec. 10 at the Darke County Fairgrounds.

I wrote the story on what happened, and it should run soon, but I thought the following occurrence deserved so much more.

You see, some Spirit personnel saved the life of a man at Eldora Speedway.

“Earlier this year, something very special happened that I want to take you back to and relive the moments of July 15, 2023, at 8:41 p.m. when 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,” said President/CEO Brian K. Hathaway during the awards program.

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,” Hathaway said. “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.”

According to Hathaway’s report, the crew began a rapid assessment of the patient, placed him on the cot, and ran a 12-lead EKG on him.

“Immediately after running the 12-lead EKG, Mr. Kruse goes into a seizure, then takes two final breaths and goes into pulseless ventricular fibrillation,” he said. “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 the scene. Deputy Slade jumps in the driver’s seat of the Spirit ambulance and begins driving it towards another oncoming Spirit ambulance that’s been dispatched to assist. Spirit EMS Paramedic Ron Cruse jumped in the back of the ambulance and assisted 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 by the crew.”

The patient was then quickly transported to an aircraft that was already onsite at Eldora Speedway. Nurses Lindsey Heunen and Kaylee Simpson of Miami Valley’s CareFlight program took over care. 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.

“I spoke with Mr. Kruse after the incident, and he shared with me that he knows he was in the right place at the right time,” Hathaway stated. “He’s spent many days of his life at Eldora Speedway, but, for some reason, on that particular weekend, rather than going straight home with his wife after weeks’ vacation in New York, they decided to travel to Eldora Speedway to visit with their son.”

Then the CEO announced, “Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pride to introduce to you the man who is so thankful for the courageous team of first responders who were there to save his life that fateful July evening…Mr. Eric Kruse.”

Kruze came out from behind the curtains and was introduced. He spoke to the crowd, shook hands, and embraced those who saved him.

The Star of Life Award was then presented to Paramedics Elizabeth Cuvar and Ron Cruse and EMT Linda Smith, all with Spirit EMS; Deputy Fred Slade of the Darke County Sheriff’s Office; Deputy Matt Spurlock of the Preble County Sheriff’s; Flight Nurses Lindsey Heunen and Kaylee Simpson of Miami Valley’s CareFlight Program; and Pilot Jeff Pudil of Miami Valley’s CareFlight Program.

They received plaques with a Spirit Star of Life Award.

Hathaway also shared some data, as follows:

“There are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) annually in the U.S.
— That is nearly 1,000 people each day.
— 73.4 percent of OHCA occur at home or residence, 16.3 percent in a public setting, and 10.3 percent in nursing homes.
— Nearly 50 percent of OHCA are unwitnessed.
— Nearly 90 percent of the 356,000 cardiac arrests are fatal.
“According to 2021 U.S. data for adult OHCA only, survival to hospital discharge was 9.1 percent for all EMS-treated non-traumatic OHCA cardiac arrests,” Hathaway reported.

“Bystander witnessed adult arrests had a 13.3 percent survival to hospital discharge and 9-1-1 responder witnessed arrests had a 15.9 percent survival to hospital discharge.”
He went on, “Loss of blood to the brain starts to cause brain damage in just 4-6 minutes. After 10 minutes, it’s probably too late. Seven percent of OHCA treated by EMS providers are discharged with ‘good’ functioning status. Overall, Mr. Kruse’s odds of having witnessed OHCA t in a public setting with EMS on staff was short nothing of a miracle.”

The CEO concluded, “Every day as first responders, we are making a difference in the lives of others no matter our line of work. Be it a dispatcher, a field EMS provider, a transfer/transport EMS provider, a firefighter, or a law enforcement officer, we are here to serve and protect the public.

“Many people have the misconception that private EMS is only people who transport people in non-emergency situations. Every day, as EMS private providers, we are saving lives by ensuring patients are taken for more definitive and invasive care.

“Unlike many private EMS providers, Spirit EMS is very diversified in all we do. Not only do we handle routine patient transports hospital to hospital critical crate transports, we cover 52 square miles of 9-1-1 territory in Shelby County and are the provider for more than 50 days of special event coverages at such places as the Great Darke County Fair, Country Concert in the Hills, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Eldora Speedway.”

I would like to personally thank those who answered the call to help Mr. Kruze that night. And, you could tell by looking at him that night in the Coliseum that he for sure was so grateful.


Jamie and I extend our condolences to the families and friends of Jenny Pitman, Patricia Kolling, Betty Grooms, and Sarah  F. Bailey.


Please pray for these people: Kara Didier, Carl Francis, Janet and Troy Kammer, Bob Peters, Phyllis Brumbaugh, Sonny Custer, Betty Burnfield, Dan Lockhart, Roberta Hall, Pam Norman-Penticuff, Kelly Kelch, Mike Mayse, Greg Moody, Kelly Jo Eikenberry (kidney transplant) and son Allen (donor), Larry Linder, Steve Waymire, Jamie Knick, Nikole Baldridge, Chester Bryant, Lester Beisner, Delores Beisner, Kermit Foureman, Chuck “C.W.” Cruze, Mark Lovejoy.

Also, Judy York, Donald Booker, Dennis Leeper, Connie Stachler, Randy Heck, Ronnie Norton, Jeremy “Jerm” Burke, Gary Eichler, David Pretzman, Clinton Randall, Ralph Byrd, Doug Winger, Sonja and Dan Coppess, Bruce Kaiser, Amanda Mote, Gary Francis, Paul Gigandet, Doug Whittington, Tracy Pratt, D’Arleen Waymire, Zach Urbancic, John Rimmer, Joan Keen, Carol Hemmerich, Larry P. Fitzwater, Jim Thomas, Neal Gray, Judie Hathaway, Randy Garrison, Jannie Barrow, Kathy Gragorace, Becky Everhart, Donna Bixler, Linda Subler, Cathy Melling, Scott Clark, and all of those who are suffering from other life-altering illnesses.


Happy birthday:  
Dec. 22 to Logan Moody, Sonnie Hartrum and David Schlechty.
Dec. 23 to Ed Kress, Vic Yagle, Garth Knick, Barbara Wilson, Olivia Daugherty, Arianna Caixba, Kyle Wentworth, Nellie Reier, and Bub Johnston.
Dec. 24 to Charles Prasuhn, Jamie Husted, Lance Bartram, Rick Macias, and Cindy Hayes-Burke.
Dec. 25 to Connie Stachler and  Sheri Black.
Dec. 26 to Kelly Fliehman, Molly Walls, Karen Hecht, Mackenzie Stucke, Matt Duncan, Terry Curtis, Kelly Jo McDowell and Ron Gard.
Dec. 27 to Aaron Scammahorn, Mary Bevins, Daryl Goodwin, Scott Pfledderer, Rob Hathaway, Linda Leeper, Dana Heck, Tina McClanahan, Peggy Follrod, Doug Drexler, George Kenworthy and Tracy Johnson.
Dec. 28 to Bill Gantt, Holden Long, Heather Midlam, and Terry Overbay.

Think about it: “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” — Author Unknown