It all can change in a heartbeat

Gary Herbranson (front left) survived cardiac arrest after a heart attack, surviving in part due to an automatic CPR machine. Shown in the photo are, front row – grandchildren Brooke, Gary, Hunter and Gary’s wife Kathy; back, Gary’s son Jon, Jon’s wife Melissa and the couple’s third child, River.

In honor of American Heart Month, the Riverwood Healthcare Center Foundation launched the Save the Heartbeat fundraising campaign.

The campaign goal to raise $14,000 will fully fund a Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System – or LUCAS – chest compression system for the critical access hospital.

As the most advanced CPR technology available, the LUCAS device delivers consistent high-quality chest compressions, overcomes caregiver fatigue and extends the reach of care by allowing for treatment of underlying causes while CPR continues.

Heart disease continues to be the No. 1 killer of Americans, nationwide and in Minnesota. The LUCAS device is especially critical for heart attack patients, saving countless lives when cardiac arrest occurs.

“The research shows that poorly timed chest compressions, too rapid or too slow, that don’t extend to the correct depth are essentially ineffective. The LUCAS device perfectly times chest compressions and exact depth,” said Drew Van Santeen, nurse supervisor at Riverwood’s Emergency Department who has worked in trauma care for more than 15 years. “This is an essential piece of equipment to help us give our patients the best care.”

Gary Herbranson of McGregor knows firsthand the benefits of the LUCAS device for heart attack patients. Herbranson went into cardiac arrest after suffering a heart attack while at home on Big Sandy Lake. The LUCAS device kept his heart beating during a 20-minute ambulance ride.

He then received medical air transport to Abbott-Northwestern in Minneapolis for a coronary angioplasty, in coordination with his care team at Riverwood Healthcare Center, a Level III Trauma Center and Level 1 Heart Attack Program Hospital.

Following an emergency coronary angioplasty to open the blocked vessels in his heart, Herbranson recovered. Along with the expert care of the first responders and his medical teams at Riverwood and Abbott-Northwestern, Herbranson credits the LUCAS machine for his positive outcome.

“I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for the LUCAS machine,” Herbranson said. “You think that you’re never going to be in this situation, but you never know. This machine could save your life or somebody you love.

“Look at anyone in our community,” he added. “Your neighbor. A complete stranger. It could be somebody’s parent, somebody’s child. You never know who could need it next. It’s a lifesaver.”

To donate to the Save the Heartbeat campaign, visit or call the Riverwood Foundation at 218-927-5158.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.