The Gift Of Life

NEW BREMEN — Twenty five shocks, seven injections of epinephrine and a cardiac surgery were what it took to save Max the “Miracle Man” Cotterman after going into sudden cardiac arrest, but the most important factor in his care was the 91 minutes of CPR he had received from family, friends, the New Bremen EMS Squad and hospital staff.

“Obviously many other factors were involved, however, without the initial CPR started by his wife, Vickie, his son, Mike, and his neighbors, Greg and Larry, Max would not be here,” New Bremen EMS Administrator Linda Emmons said.

A special ceremony was held Thursday night to recognize all who were involved in saving Cotterman’s life and to raise awareness of the importance of bystander CPR.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is something that EMS squads throughout our country deal with around 300,000 times every year,” said Brian Anderson, a fireman and paramedic for the Celina Fire Department, flight paramedic for Life Flight and emergency services outreach coordinator for St. Rita’s Hospital. “One of the most important things is bystander CPR.”

New Bremen EMS squads received a call at 12:11 p.m. June 4 for a possible heart attack. Neighbor and retired New Bremen Fireman Larry Wissman heard the page and went to the scene.

“I was just getting ready to head home and I heard the page,” Wissman said, noting he saw retired New Bremen EMS squad member Greg Maurer out mowing his lawn.

Upon arriving at the Cotterman home, Wissman and Maurer saw Vickie Cotterman performing CPR and took over for her, performing two-man CPR until the New Bremen EMS squad arrived.

“We have worked together in different emergency situations over the years,” Maurer said of his experience with Wissman.

An officer arrived with his AED from his cruiser and worked to place the pads on Cotterman’s chest when the EMS squad took over his care.

“As additional members began showing up, we continued good, quality CPR that had already been performed since 12:11,” Emmons said.

“CPR was not interrupted during the transfer of care … We worked Max for 15 minutes on scene and another 10 minutes en route to the hospital.”

The squad arrived at St. Rita’s, where hospital staff took over compressions, with help as needed from the squad. At the end of Cotterman’s five hour experience, he was placed in the coronary care unit.

“He got the nickname of the ‘Miracle Man’ because he had 25 shocks and seven epis, and then he had a cardiac surgery,” Vickie Cotterman said. “It is unbelievable that he survived. Everybody that worked on him at the hospital would come by and check on him because they couldn’t believe how well he did — how he came through this.”

Cotterman said he does not remember much from the day or from the days that followed, but he is thankful for all the hard work that went into saving his life.

“I appreciate the New Bremen Emergency Squad efforts in saving my life,” Cotterman said. “It was a life or death experience and you answered the call … I can only remember waking up 17 days later in a hospital seeing my family, and I appreciate you guys because you got me through this. From what I understand, I am very lucky.”

Anderson said Cotterman is in the minority of those who go into sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of CPR.

“Eight percent of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest like Max did — only 8 percent of those people live,” Anderson said. “Eight percent. That’s not very much. Those odds can be tripled by bystander CPR that’s done immediately.”

Anderson noted the importance of knowing CPR for when situations like Cotterman’s arise.

“That neighbor that’s a block away that knows CPR and that’s willing to come down and help can mean the difference between life and death, and I think that’s something that speaks volumes here,” he said.

Barb Scheer, training center coordinator for the American Heart Association and the education coordinator for Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, also stressed the importance of bystander CPR.

“The most important intervention that anybody can do for anyone who is having cardiac arrest is CPR,” Scheer said.

“All the equipment, all the fancy medications — if you don’t have bystander CPR, you’re probably not going to make it. I can’t say how important CPR is.”

CPR classes are available through Joint Township District Memorial Hospital.

For more information on how to earn a CPR certification, contact CPR Coordinator Linda Dicke at 419-394-3387 ext. 1224 or e-mail her at