Teamwork makes them real lifesavers

Dispatcher, officers, ambulance crew credited with against-the-odds rescue of Town of Port Washington man who suffered a heart attack, was unresponsive

JIM GREISCH AND his wife Jennie (front) got the chance to say thank you to (back row, from left) Port Police Officer Matt Keller, Deputy Brian Ronan and dispatcher Leah Ellestad, who saved Greisch’s life after he suffered cardiac arrest at his Town of Port Washington home on Jan. 11. Photo by Sam Arenddt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

When dispatcher Leah Ellestad walked into a conference room at the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office Monday, Jennie Greisch embraced her.

“You’re my hero,” Mrs. Greisch told Ellestad. “You’re my angel.”

Mrs. Greisch and her husband Jim effusively thanked Port Washington Police Officer Matt Keller and Deputy Brian Ronan as well.

Sheriff Jim Johnson had praise for the group as well, presenting Ronan with the Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award and Ellestad and Keller with the Sheriff’s Gold Coin of Excellence. 

The recognition came because the men  successfully resuscitated Mr. Greisch after he suffered cardiac arrest at his Town of Port Washington house shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11.

Mrs. Greisch made a frantic 911 call for help, and Ellestad answered, keeping her calm until Ronan and Keller arrived minutes later.

Mr. Greisch wasn’t breathing and he didn’t have a pulse.

The officers initiated CPR, taking turns doing chest compressions and breaths, and hooked Mr. Greisch up to an automated external defibrillator. Using the device, they shocked him five times and brought him back to life.

“That’s a lot,” Johnson said.

Mr. Greisch was then taken to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, where he spent a week in the intensive care unit.

Doctors replaced his pacemaker and also installed a defibrillator.

Mr. Greisch went through a week of rehabilitation at Newcastle Place in Mequon — “He couldn’t wait to get out,” his wife said — but made a return trip to the hospital after suffering a hematoma.

But he’s back home again, weaker than before but alive.

“I think I’m doing all right,” Mr. Greisch said. “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m getting around, but I’m a little weak.”

Doctors predict it will take 10 to 12 weeks before he’s back to normal, his wife said.

Before her husband collapsed, Mrs. Greisch said, the couple was having a calm morning, having coffee with their son Joel, who left just before the incident.

She discovered her husband slumped over and unresponsive, so she called 911. Ellestad, she said, kept her as calm as possible, and the officers were quick to help.

Johnson credited the actions of the officers, Ellestad and the Port Washington ambulance crew with saving Greisch’s life.

“It’s always a team effort,” he said. “This shows the whole team working together and the importance of each part of that team.

“He (Greisch) was very lucky. Only a small percentage of people survived something like this. The advanced medical care we have available makes a difference.”

Port Police Chief Kevin Hingiss on Tuesday called the response “a success story” and said, “I think they did a fantastic job ...  and it’s wonderful we have the (defibrillators) since the police officers are usually the first to arrive on the scene.... They’re a fantastic tool for us to have.”

As the couple thanked the officers and Ellestad again after the ceremony, Ronan smiled.

“I’m so honored to have been able to do that,” he said.

Keller only half-jokingly offered a bit of advice to Mr. Greisch.

“Don’t do that again,” he said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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