Quick action unable to save life of traveler from Ohio


— Quick action by a woman driving through Steamboat Springs and emergency responders wasn’t enough to save the live of an Ohio man Thursday.

The woman was driving with her husband at about 3:15 p.m. when the man suddenly slumped over in the passenger seat. The woman saw a Routt County Sheriff’s Office SUV and followed the deputy through the back gate into the parking area behind the Sheriff’s Office in west Steamboat. There, she got the attention of Deputy Jacob Carlson and asked for help. Carlson called to his partner, Deputy T.J. Sisto, and the two immediately began CPR.

Sheriff’s Office Investigator Ken Klinger said it was a good decision by the woman.

“She had a presence of mind to follow the squad car through the gate into the back lot,” he said.

All of the deputies are trained in CPR, and Sisto gave chest compressions while Carlson performed emergency breathing.

The first ambulance with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue emergency responders arrived on scene within three minutes of the initial call, according to call logs from dispatchers, and took the man to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

The heart of David Sunder­land, the 63-year-old man from the Columbus, Ohio, again stopped while in the emergency room, and he was pronounced dead at 4:20 p.m.

Klinger said the response of the deputies was within a minute of talking to the woman, and Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said Sunderland had a “a little bit of a pulse” when he arrived at the hospital. Ryg said the man, a military veteran, had recently been to the doctor and had a number of medical issues.

Klinger said the issue highlights the importance of deputies having portable defibrillators in their vehicles. Klinger said he and other deputies got a defibrillator from the jail during Thursday’s emergency, but it took between six and eight minutes to get it through several locked doors out to the parking lot. By that time, the ambulance had arrived with its own equipment.

Klinger said it’s not clear whether a defibrillator would have saved Sunderland’s life, but it could have made a difference.

Sheriff Gary Wall has been pushing for defibrillators since he took office.

“It’s important to have those in all of my vehicles, even the animal control officers, because we’re all around the county,” he said.

Wall said he has requested the defibrillators for two years but that the request has not survived the budgeting process. He said it would cost about $30,000 to outfit the Sheriff’s Office’s entire fleet.

“This is exactly the kind of thing why I wanted that,” he said. “It deals with public safety in the county. For the small amount of money it seems to me, in terms of my over $4 million budget, to put those in all of our cars, it seems to me something we shouldn’t even be debating about.”

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger has said in the past that he was reluctant to put the devices in cars without knowing more about them. On Friday, he said it’s still an issue the commissioners are considering for next year’s budget and that they have talked to doctors to learn more about them.

“I support the idea if they’re going to save lives, and then financially we can figure out how to wrangle the money up to get them in there,” he said.

Monger said it was important for the county to have a clear policy for where they devices should be placed around the county and that he didn’t want to rush into a decision.

“We wanted to make sure that people were trained and what our obligations and liabilities were,” he said.

He said they have been talking with a county health adviser, Dr. Brian Harrington, about what training would be necessary.

“I just don’t like going into things blindly and not knowing what we’re picking off,” Monger said.

More information about AEDs can be found here.


seeuski 6 years, 11 months ago

Talk, talk, talk. Get the dang defibrillators in the squad cars. Drive over to the YVMC and talk to a nurse for five minutes if you need to know. Geez. It may save your life next time.


Doug Matthews 6 years, 11 months ago

Wake up, Doug and the other commissioners! You don't need to go to medical school before you can say,"OK, buy the AEDs." They have instructions written on them, they are foolproof. They are all over airports and other public buildings; more prevalent than fire extinguishers, for the public to use when needed. I am so tired of you having this thing about "Whose is bigger?" ever since Gary Wall was elected. Pull your head out into the sunshine and wake up!


dave mcirvin 6 years, 11 months ago

A tragedy and sad day for the visitor from Ohio and his family.

Gary you are right and this is an absolute first that I agree with seeuski. Quick intervention with AEDs may convert a sudden into a near cardiac death and it is chump change to equip the sheriffs fleet, dog catchers (now that is a pet friendly community), ice rink and high school gym. The protocols on the newer AEDs are dummy proof, at least on the human patients.

We'll have to ask Dr. Paige at Pet Kare to see where to put the leads to spark a pup.


stephb 6 years, 11 months ago

First off, I would like to say that I am so sorry for the loss of this gentleman, and for his family and friends. Now about the AED importance.It only makes sense to have one in all Police vehicles. They are typically the first to arrive on scene anyway. They can start CPR, and slap on the AED and when the Ambulance gets there they can oversee, take over, while getting drugs ready. Seconds can change life sustainability. For anyone who thinks it is too expensive, think about what this town spends money on. This is a fantastic investment that I hope the City takes seriously. In the light of the recent construction, what if a person dropped at a bus stop West of town, and EMS was held up in a traffic nightmare....well, there are plenty of Police cars around...The officer could run over and provide a higher quality of care rather then delaying intervention. Get some AED's, get some training. I am with seeuski....come on up to the hospital and any one of us will gladly show you not only how easy it is to operate, but also how much it improves a patients chance of surviving cardiac arrest.


stephb 6 years, 11 months ago

I forgot to mention that it is important to recognize that the officers did all they could do with what they had, and they were FAST. Good job for doing all you could do. It's not easy.


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