DULUTH, Minn. --
Master Sgt. Grant Gimpel, 148th Fighter Wing, serves militarily in the 148th Civil Engineering Operations Management section and full time as a 148th Fire Department Station Captain, received a “Life Saver” award during a St. Louis County board meeting, April 12, 2022, Duluth, Minnesota. The award, presented by St. Louis County Sherriff Ross Litman, recognizes heroism and those that went the extra mile to save someone’s life.
In addition to being a fulltime state employee with the 148th Fighter Wing, Gimpel also serves as a volunteer fire chief for Grand Lake Township, Minnesota and on Jan. 16, 2021 was dispatched via a 911 call for an unresponsive male. Conveniently, he was right across the street from the fire hall and was the first person to arrive on the scene.
Upon arrival the male was unresponsive and not breathing. “When I got there…dispatchers were giving CPR instructions to his wife,” said Gimpel. “I kept coaching her along and reassuring her while I got my equipment ready.” Once he had his equipment set-up he was able to take over. “The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) analyzed a shockable rhythm and after shocking him I took over CPR.”
While administering CPR for two minutes other responders started to arrive on scene. After the two minutes of CPR the AED detected another shockable rhythm and shocked the unresponsive male once again. After checking for pulse and breathing they continued to administer CPR. “When other responders arrived, we started rotating CPR. You will get very tired…very quickly if doing proper CPR,” stated Gimpel.
“After the third shock by the AED we were able to clear his airway and he started talking to us…of course his chest hurt because of the shocks and compressions delivered. We had a great conversation in the ambulance…he was wondering what was going on and this is one of those stories you don’t get to tell very often especially living out in the county. Time is everything,” said Gimpel.
“Living in a rural area can hurt due to the time it takes to arrive on the scene, and time means everything. A lot of times these are no witnesses to the cardiac arrest and they could be there for who knows how long before someone finds them,” Gimpel said. He has personally been involved with at least a half dozen saves using the defibrillator.
Gimpel started as a volunteer firefighter for Grand Lake Township in 2001. Through the years he has moved up in responsibility, filling positions as the Training Officer, Captain, Assistant Fire Chief and assuming the role of Fire Chief in 2013.
Gimpel transferred to the 148th Fighter Wing from the Army National Guard in 2002 and went to Technical School to become a firefighter. He currently fulfills the role of Station Captain with the 148th Fighter Wing Fire Department.
He is extremely humble about receiving the “Life Saver” award. “The success of that incident would not of happened without the team there…for some reason they picked me to honor probably because I was the first to arrive but it is about the team and not me personally,” stated Gimpel.