The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 19, 2014

Mankato woman living proof of EKG's value

Grant will get EKG machines to rural rescuers

Sitting in a rocking chair with her 6-year-old grandson on her lap, the boy asked, "Grandma, can we rock?"

So Mary Styndl obliged. They rocked. And then she felt it: a quick, sharp pain in her chest.

"I had thought that maybe the back of his head hit my chest," she said.

She thought little of it. In fact, she walked her grandson to Kennedy Elementary School.

And then the pain came back. And got worse.

Her husband Vance Stuehrenberg, a Blue Earth County commissioner and former Mankato police officer, came home around 8:30 a.m. that February day and noticed immediately something was very different about his wife.

"He said, 'Do you want to go to the ER?' I said 'Yes.' And that just wasn't me," Styndl said.

Stuehrenberg called 911 and asked if he should bring her in himself. They answered with an emphatic 'No,' and an ambulance crew dispatched immediately.

Styndl, 57, was in the middle of a heart attack. But working in her favor was a new way of doing things that gave her extra time and got her care team working as soon as the call to 911 was made.

When paramedics arrived, they were able to assess her heart condition with a 12-lead EKG machine, which places 12 electrodes on the torso. Once a heart attack was confirmed, a special team began assembling so that when she arrived she could bypass the Emercency Room and head straight to the catheter lab where the blockage causing the heart attack could be removed.

The use of 12-lead EKG machines by emergency medical service crews is relatively new. It's been around in Mankato for just a couple of years. Now, thanks to a $108,000 grant from the American Heart Association, such technology will be made available to more rural ambulance services and hospitals.

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