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Defibrillator Saved Referee's Life

February 8, 2011, 6:02 PM by Kelli Grant

Defibrillator Saved Referee's Life
SIOUX FALLS, SD - You'd think looking back, January 27th would seem like a blur to Dan Sudbeck.

But it's just the opposite.

“I sat down, maybe a minute or two and it felt like I was going to faint,” Sudbeck said.

In fact he remembers everything up until that point, up until his heart just stopped.

He had no chest pain, no shortness of breath. The next thing he remembers is commotion in the coach's lounge and people asking if he knew where he was.

“I said ‘yea I'm at OG, the score is 29-28.’ And then one of them said, 'do you remember getting shocked?' And I said, 'shocked? No I don't remember getting shocked!'" Sudbeck said.

While one trainer was performing CPR, another ran to get an AED. The machine detects one of two deadly heart rhythms and then delivers a shock.

It's what saved his life.

“I couldn't have been in a better situation. I mean I've got two qualified trainers that are there, we've got a defibrillator right there. I'm two miles from the Heart Hospital. I mean the stars were aligned perfectly that night,” Sudbeck said.

An ambulance took Sudbeck to the Avera Heart Hospital where he had triple bypass surgery.

“I think without that AED, I probably would not be here,” Sudbeck said.

Coincidentally, working with the Avera Heart Hospital and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Sudbeck's wife Pat had been instrumental in getting AEDs placed in schools, churches and businesses and teaching people how to use them.

“I always knew my training would impact somebody I knew or somebody I loved. But I never dreamt in a hundred years that would be my own husband,” Pat said.

It was a commitment she made, and now she's making another to help her husband get better.

Since returning home to Dimok from the hospital last week, the two have been walking in their church every day, twice a day, getting their heart rate up and strengthening it in the process.

His recovery has been phenominal. He has been a great patient, just determined to get better and be the head of our household again,” Pat said.

A program between the Avera Heart Hospital and Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue sells AED's at cost. For details, we've posted that information through HealthBeat at

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