You just never know when you’re going to need help in return for a good deed. For Victor Giesbrecht, it was almost immediately.
That’s because minutes after helping two women change a tire on the side of a Wisconsin highway, the 61-year-old Winnipeg resident suffered a heart attack. The women’s help, including a quick call to emergency services and some basic CPR, helped save his life.
“We’ll forever be in their debt,” Giesbrecht’s wife, Ann, said of the pair.
The two women, Wisconsin resident Sara Berg, 40, and her cousin Lisa Meier, were driving home Saturday night on Interstate 94 just east of the city of Menomonie when a “God awful” noise signalled a flat tire.
Berg told the Star that she pulled over and called for help. That’s when a Ford pickup truck, driven by Giesbrecht, stopped to help.
Without any formal introduction, Giesbrecht grabbed his tools and set to work, changing the front passenger tire on Berg’s Plymouth Breeze. When he was done, they shook hands and Berg and Meier offered their thanks.
According to Berg, Giesbrecht then said: “Somebody up above put me in the right place at the right time.”
“Thank God for you,” she remembers telling him. “Thanks for stopping.”
Giesbrecht drove off, and Berg soon followed. But a couple of kilometres down the road, Berg noticed Giesbrecht’s pickup at the side of the highway.
As she pulled over she saw Giesbrecht’s wife waving her arms at passing traffic.
Sensing that Giesbrecht was having a heart attack, Berg — a home-care worker with the Mayo Clinic Health System — climbed in the truck and started CPR. Meier called for help.
Giesbrecht had no vital signs when emergency personnel arrived, said Wisconsin State Patrol Sgt. Steve Tape.
Two Dunn County deputies had an automated external defibrillator in their car and delivered three shocks to Giesbrecht that restarted his heart, Tape said.
A medical helicopter landed on the interstate to transport him to hospital in Eau Claire, Wisc. Giesbrecht arrived in critical condition but was listed in serious condition Monday, said his attending cardiologist, Dr. Regis Fernandes. He confirmed Giesbrecht suffered cardiac arrest.
Fernandes said the chances of surviving cardiac arrest outside of a hospital are very slim.
For Giesbrecht, getting CPR in combination with the defibrillator was critical, he said.
Berg insists it was the collaborative effort that saved Giesbrecht.
“They were just really friendly, kind people,” she said. “And I was grateful.”
But Ann Giesbrecht couldn’t help but single someone out.
“I talked to Sara on Sunday night and told her, ‘You actually saved his life,’” she said.