Indiana man suffers cardiac arrest at ski area

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— A 59-year-old Indiana man is recovering in a Fort Collins hospital after he was revived Monday when he went into cardiac arrest at the Steamboat Ski Area.

A Poudre Valley Hospital official said Tuesday evening John Bevelhimer is in stable condition.

Bevelhimer was flown to the Fort Collins hospital after he was revived by Steamboat Ski Patrol personnel and bystanders Monday morning.

"When we reached him, he was pulseless and not breathing," said John Kohnke, director of ski patrol for the Steamboat Ski Area for the past three seasons.

Bevelhimer collapsed at about 11 a.m. on the third floor of the Thunderhead building, which also houses the top of the gondola.

Bevelhimer, who was skiing with friends, had been feeling "sluggish" since he arrived in town Sunday, Kohnke said.

Bevelhimer and his friends went on a couple of runs before stopping for a cup of hot chocolate at the Thunderhead building. Once on the third floor, Bevelhimer slumped over and collapsed, Kohnke said.

A ski patrol unit, which is based in the Thunderhead building, was notified of the man's collapse by a ski instructor, Mark Gabrielson.

"Gabrielson just happened to be up there on the third floor," Kohnke said.

As seven members of the ski patrol hurried to the scene, an anesthesiologist from San Antonio, Texas, and a paramedic were attending to Bevelhimer, Kohnke said.

With the ski patrol unit were Gary Baggenstoss, a retired doctor, and Joe Packard, who also works for Steamboat Springs Ambulance as an emergency medical technician.

"Everyone just happened to be there," Kohnke said. "We were on the scene in less than five minutes. Time is critical in these cases."

Armed with a mobile defibrillator, the ski patrol went through the steps to use the machine that conducts a controlled electrical shock to the heart.

Every member of the ski patrol is trained to use a defibrillator, Kohnke said.

Packard administered the shock to the man's stopped heart.

"After the first shock, he opened an eye," Kohnke said of Bevelhimer. "He started breathing and he had a pulse."

Once Bevelhimer was revived, the ski patrol made plans to transport the man down the mountain on the gondola.

At the bottom of the gondola, a Steamboat ambulance waited to transport Bevelhimer to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Bevelhimer was then flown to Poudre Valley Hospital at about 1:30 p.m.

Kohnke said he was proud of the way his ski patrol unit responded to the scene and thankful the bystanders were there.

"We were lucky things fell into place," Kohnke said. "Things worked extremely smoothly."

Kohnke, who has been working for the ski patrol for the past 25 years, said these types of emergencies are rare. He said the only similar incident he knows of occurred about six years ago.

"This was the same machine that was used," Kohnke said of the defibrillator. "This was its second save."

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