Superior, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - 57–year–old Bart Beyer and his son, Josh, said the only thing on their minds last May while heading out on the Cloquet River for the day was the fish.
"I knew there was a beaver dam on the river. I had been up there in the wintertime on the snowmobile, and I knew that would be a great spot to fish. So, we headed for there and that's as far as we made it," said Beyer, from Duluth.
Without warning, their leisurely canoe paddle took a turn for the worst when chest pains began to plague Beyer.
"I sat down by a log on the side of the river, and I didn't get up again," said Beyer.
Beyer was suffering from an ST–Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction—or STEMI—what experts call the most life–threatening kind of heart attack. Realizing just how far into the wilderness they were, 33–year–old Josh began sorting through their sparse options.
"[It's the] middle of nowhere, what are we going to do? How are we going to get him out of here? [It's] a long ways from any help," said Josh.
Josh sprung into action, carrying his father on his back until he had enough cell phone reception to dial 911, and then frantically paddled almost 2 miles back to the boat landing—splashing his father in between paddles—where a Life Flight Helicopter was waiting, along with two St. Louis County Rescue Squad deputies and Gneson fire crews.
"As he was passing out, [and] going down, I just kept giving him some water to make sure he stayed awake," said Josh.
Beyer arrived at the hospital just 12 minutes after emergency crews picked him up. That's when his heart stopped for the 1st time, and it didn't end there. In all, Beyer basically died—and had to be brought back to life—a total of 24 times.
"I don't remember much of anything until I woke up in the hospital," said Beyer.
15 days later, Beyer was released from the hospital, and on Friday, he and his family got to praise emergency crews' quick, coordinated response that gave him another day with his grandchildren.
"It's great to be out, and it's great to see my grandchildren again," said Beyer.
Beyer's wife, Lucy, says she's especially thankful that the rescue has guaranteed her one more wedding anniversary.
"If it wasn't for all of them, he wouldn't be here today. I'm glad they did because next weekend we're celebrating our 34th anniversary," said Lucy.
...with, hopefully, many more to come.
Beyer's story was part of an all day, regional cardiac care conference that focuses on improving coordination efforts among various emergency responders and area hospitals.