Moments after finishing his first snowboard run of the season at Afton Alps, 17-year-old Dan Mannon trudged back to the ski lift Saturday for another crack at the slope. He took a few steps and then crumpled to the ground, going into cardiac arrest.
Shane Linehan, a former Washington County sheriff’s deputy standing a few feet away with his daughters, knelt at Mannon’s side and began administering CPR. Almost immediately he was joined by Kevin Neubauer, a ski instructor at the resort in Washington County’s Denmark Township. Only yards away, Afton Alps general manager Joe Yasis grabbed an automated external defibrillator (AED) and ran to the scene.
Working together, the three men managed to resuscitate the unconscious teenager.
Mannon, of Wilson, Wis., was reunited Tuesday with Linehan and Yasis at a news conference at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, as a roomful of photographers and TV camera people jockeyed to capture the moment.
“I’m very grateful for Shane, because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here right now. And thankful for Joe for having the AED, because that really saved me,” Mannon said. “And I don’t think I can ever express how grateful I am to them.”
At the news conference, Dr. Dennis Zhu, an electrophysiologist, said the survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest once hovered around 3 percent nationwide.
That number has risen in recent years due to “widespread education” and the proliferation of the automated external defibrillators, he said.
“Fortunately, with these heroes here, [Mannon’s] life was saved without any major adverse consequences,” Zhu said. “Because … the brain tissue dies very quickly, in several minutes, without blood supply. The bystander resuscitation is really the key.”
‘Something was wrong’
Mannon, who remains at Regions undergoing tests, said he drifted in and out of consciousness on his way to the hospital and remembered hearing paramedics talking, “but I didn’t really know what was happening. I could just tell that something was wrong.”
His mother, Debbie Mannon, raced to the hospital after receiving a frantic phone call at home from one of her other sons.
“When I walked into the ER, he was still really fuzzy. And when I saw him my first words to him were, ‘Dan, what are you doing here?’ ” she said. “And he says, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
Her son, she said, had no history of heart trouble.
She said her family members leaned on their faith through the ordeal. Mannon’s father, Rick Mannon, is a pastor in Wilson, a town of 200 about 16 miles west of Menomonie and 60 miles east of St. Paul.
A turning point
The incident had a profound impact on one of the rescuers.
As a former sheriff’s deputy, Linehan, 37, said he had seen his share of near-death experiences in his years on the job. He said he recently retired from the department after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“One thing piles up on another thing, and things start to not get processed and not get put away. And things start popping back up,” Linehan said.
He received several commendations during his career, for actions such as pulling a man from the frigid St. Croix River in 2010 and helping to capture an armed man who had barricaded himself in a St. Paul Park home, using his mother as human shield.
Linehan said that those episodes exacted a psychological toll and that he had only recently started reassembling the pieces of his life. Which made Saturday’s rescue even more significant for him.
“This one actually fits in on the plus side. I have trouble going out. I have trouble being in crowds,” Linehan said. “I just have a lot of trouble doing stuff sometimes, mentally.”
This time, he said, “Something happened. I knew what to do and I did exactly what I needed to do. And it worked out well. Really, really well. … So to me, it’s almost healing.”