Life-saving 'miracle' | Rafter, AED saves Twin Falls man's life in Idaho wilderness

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) A Twin Falls couple believes miracles are possible after facing a medical emergency in a remote location of Idaho.

Mike Jensen recovering in a Montana hospital after suffering a heart attack at the Salmon River over Memorial Day Weekend (Cindy Jensen)

“We were camping in the Salmon River Canyon, which is you go to the Salmon, and then you go to the North Fork, and then you go down 50 miles into the wilderness," Cindy Jensen said.

Cindy and her husband Mike had been there since Friday night, fishing and taking it easy. Cindy was cooking dinner, when the unexpected happened to Mike.

"He had built us a campfire and was saying he didn't feel well," Cindy said. "He was sitting in one of the chairs and saying his chest doesn't feel good, and that something was wrong. He got up and took three or four steps behind our camp trailer and just fell over like a tree."

Mike just experienced a heart attack and lay there before Cindy unconscious.

"So I ran over trying to get him conscious again," Cindy said. "I started shaking him and yelling at him all kinds of stuff."

Cindy said the chances of finding someone to help at a location like the one they were at were pretty slim. But she did noticed three guys that had floated in earlier in the day, and we're setting up camp down the hill from her and Mike."

"I just took off and yelled for their help and they came running, and they came up to the camp. And one of them his name was Noah and at that time that’s all we knew. He started trying to make Mike more comfortable. He asked his friends to ask if there’s anybody in the Forest Service park or other campers.”

Noah was at the Salmon River with his two friends Lee and Jacob, and said it was pure chance him and his friends were there and able to help Cindy and Mike.

"We were planning on boating the Middle Fork of the Salmon we had a preseason permit," Noah said. "We were unable to get through the typical route and changed our route, and just did typical Salmon instead."

Noah is CPR trained and has experience using devices such as AEDs, compact machines that are used on those suffering cardiac arrest.

"My son has a congenital heart condition and he went ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest at 3 and a half years old," Noah said.

"Had not these particular components not come together in minutes I would not be here," Mike said. "It was miraculous in every definition of the world or however anyone wants to construe it. It was a miracle."

Coincidence or fate, it was lucky for Mike that Noah had already known how operate an a AED, and that Forest Service rangers had one on them.

"They asked me if they should get it, and I said, 'yes,'" Noah said.

Mike said the timing Noah employed the device was life saving.

"He put that on me before the second one would’ve hit," Mike said. "The doctors have even told us there’s no way he would’ve made it out of there."

Mike's journey didn't end there. He was transported to a hospital in Montana, before he was able to return home in Twin Falls where's still recovering but feeling better.

Since then Mike has been fighting for the men that saved him that Memorial Day weekend at the Salmon River to receive some recognition, monetary payment, and to see an influx of knowledge and presence of AEDs increase in remote places like the river.

"It's incredible good ole miracle Mike," Noah said. "He's obviously doing a lot of good here with the outcome of this situation."

Noah has since applied for his EMT license, and agrees with Mike on the need to increase awareness of AEDs in the community.

"Yes, I had recently submitted my application for EMT and some training," Noah said. "I would love to see more AED awareness from the general public. I know there's probably a little bit of fear just because it's a defibrillator that can shock someone's heart, but in reality there's way you can give somebody therapy that they did not need."

And even in recovery it was clear Mike isn't going to stop fighting for the cause of Noah, and turning this "miracle" into more, even if it takes him and Cindy back to that one spot now filled with memories.

"We're going back out to those woods because we were there for a reason," Jack and Cindy said smiling. "And we're not stopping."



 
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