GREENSBURG – It’s often impossible to know exactly when tragedy will strike. Thankfully, there’s a certain few prepared for that very moment. Dennis Kuykendall, a registered nurse at Decatur County Memorial Hospital, and Luke Grow, a training officer with Batesville Fire and Rescue, both responded to an incident on I-74 back in February. From Kuykendall’s perspective, he saw people standing around a man on the ground with a few individuals attempting CPR.
The man was unresponsive and reportedly blue in the face at the scene. “I started slowing down and I rolled down my window and asked if they needed help, and they said ‘yes,’” Kuykendall said. “Right away, whatever you want to call it kicked in and I pulled to the side and I
basically jumped through traffic and over the concrete divider and basically took control of the situation.”
Kuykendall said he immediately checked for a pulse, and when there wasn’t one, he began to perform CPR. “This took a long time, and that’s the miracle of it all is that somehow we were able to continue going until the ambulance got there,”
Kuykendall said. “I was hoping a paramedic would show up and we’d be able to put a tube in this guy and do some more advanced stuff.”
Kuykendall said the ambulance on the scene only had the basic equipment, so they were unable to perform any advanced procedures. Through it all, Kuykendall had the help of Grow. Both men were essentially alternating CPR along the way, desperately trying to save the man’s life. It’s estimated both men performed CPR between 20 and 30 minutes before the monitor showed the man’s heart started to beat. “It was just a couple of guys using their training trying to save somebody,” Kuykendall said. “That’s why we get into this – to use our skills and training and everything we’ve been taught to hopefully save a life.” From Batesville Fire and Rescue, Grow also made his way onto the scene. Grow was in the ambulance that transported the man to meet with Decatur County emergency personnel –
the same vehicle where Kuykendall and Grow alternated CPR until they transported him to Decatur County EMS.
“When we got there, we got him in the truck and worked him and called for Decatur County EMS to intercept with us for medical response,” Grow said. “We took off right away toward New Point to intercept, and when we got off the exit ramp to meet up with EMS he regained his pulse.”
With his pulse returning, by the time the patient arrived to Decatur County Memorial Hospital he was waking. Grow said in those moments it was all about remaining calm.
“Just trying to stay calm in the chaos,” Grow said. “Yes, we’re trained to handle that kind of stuff, but you always have a thousand things going through your head.” In hindsight, perhaps it was by divine intervention Kuykendall was nearby, and even in stand-still traffic Grow was able to arrive in time.
“I’m going to have to go to God on that one,” Kuykendall said. “Having a strong faith background, I have to believe that He [God] played a part in that.” On that day, to be clear, Kuykendall and Grow utilized their training to save a man’s life. As expected, both were humble and said they were just doing their job.
“In the instances that we do get an outcome that is a positive, it always gives you that sense of pride that we did everything that could have,” Grow said. Kuykendall said he’s just doing his part to make a positive impact in the area he calls home.
“I don’t feel like I did anything special other than doing what I went to school for and wanted to do,” Kuykendall said. “I wanted to help people. No matter how bad or rough this world gets, I believe there are good people out there trying to do the right thing. I’m just trying to do good work in my area.”
Josh Heath may be contacted at 812-663-3111 ext. 7401 or Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org.