Le Sueur-Henderson senior Keegan Straub had the opportunity to put his education to the test in the most meaningful way on Friday, April 1, when he was a first responder at the scene of a car accident.
Straub was leaving his job in Mankato when he will witness an individual who appeared to be unconscious in a roundabout. Straub watched as the individual drove over the curb of the roundabout and continued into a building on Adams Street.
Straub, who took the Emergency Medical Responder course at Le Sueur-Henderson in the fall of 2021, did not hesitate as he sprung into action. The individual in question, a 69-year-old man, regained consciousness but was vomiting blood by the time Straub approached and began a patient assessment. The driver knew his name and the date, but did not recall what happened. As it turned out, the man was experiencing a medical crisis that caused the accident, which then resulted in a non-life threatening physical injury.
“My mind was racing so fast, but the main thing going through my head was, ‘you gotta go help, you gotta get over there now’,” Straub said.
Straub estimates there was a 10-minute gap before firefighters arrived on scene, and they asked him for information about the driver and to remain on scene until EMTs arrived.
Straub grew up around firefighting, and wants to be a firefighter/first responder on the side as he pursues a career as an agricultural mechanic. So when LS-H offered him the chance to get his EMR certification, Straub saw it as a great opportunity — he just didn’t expect something like this would happen to him.
Jennifer Hovick, who teaches physical education, health and Avid in addition to the EMR class at Le Sueur-Henderson, shared that people who have EMR or even CPR training are most likely to have to use those skills on someone they know, but sometimes people can find themselves in a right time, right place situation. Hovick said Straub took her class seriously, and she did her best to put him and the other students in a range of scenarios they might one day have to respond to, but Straub’s decision to stop and help still impressed her.
“Even though they are certified as EMRs, they are not required to stop at the scene of an accident, so I think that speaks a lot to his character, the type of person he is,” Hovick said.
The EMR class teaches students everything they need to know in order to be a certified first responder. It covers everything from medical to trauma, including but not limited to: how to do blood pressure checks and take vitals, airway management and oxygen delivery, how to move patients using a stair chair and mega mover, how to administer drugs like Narcan and nitroglycerin (students train with practice syringes, not real drugs), do bleeding control and shock management, and handle common emergencies like diabetic emergencies, anaphylactic shock and caring for stroke and cardiac patients. This life-saving course is provided at LS-H thanks to a partnership with South Central College in Mankato and a grant from the South Central Service Cooperative, which provided all of the equipment for the course.
While Hovick’s class prepared Straub to act and assist, it also offered an important learning experience. As Straub was in the situation, his adrenaline was pumping and he forgot Hovick’s lessons about first ensuring scene safety. In this case, the scene was safe, but it provided a valuable teaching opportunity as he and Hovick later discussed what happened and the role adrenaline can play. It also cemented his interest in becoming a first responder.
“It really showed me that helping people is what I like, and I would like to do that a lot more,” Straub said.
Hovick has been in the EMS field for 25 years, and believes that EMRs are vital, especially in rural communities like Le Sueur and Henderson. Hovick said EMRs are most likely to be first on the scene and can do the initial assessment and begin treatment, stabilize the patient, and pass information on to other emergency responders when they get on the scene.
“With longer response times in rural communities, the more people in the community we can have certified — not only in EMR but even just basic CPR — the better, because they can provide life-saving care until EMS arrives,” Hovick said.
The EMR program was new at LS-H in the fall of 2020, and Straub was part of a group of 14 who got certified last semester, and is one of 27 students who have been certified in the past two years.
LS-H has at least 25 students signed up for the EMR class in the fall of 2022, but all of the buzz surrounding Straub’s heroic actions have generated even more interest in the class, and Hovick is thrilled that they might need to add a second section this fall.
“The skills these students are learning in the EMR class are in my opinion, making our community safer,” Hovick said. “I am extremely proud of not only Keegan, but of all the EMR students…I really think we have good students here and they have good hearts, and the fact they are willing to help people in need is why I really like Le Sueur-Henderson.”