Emergency responders save man’s life after he collapses on Main Street
Nate Howard — Enterprise Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Enterprise photo by Nate Howard

John and Sandra Halonen receive a hug from firefighter/paramedic Nate Adams, of Livingston Fire and Rescue, Tuesday outside the Halonen’s home on West Lewis. Pictured in back, from left, are firefighter and nurse Holly Tomsheck, emergency room nurse Taylor Caekaert, firefighter/paramedic Drew Franz and LFR Capt. Torston Prahl.

John Halonen died at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, Halonen called his wife, Sandra Halonen, from his hospital bed in Billings asking, “What the hell happened?”

Technically, John Halonen returned to life within a couple minutes of his cardiac arrest, lying in 3 inches of snow in the middle of Livingston’s Main Street.

Today, he is alive and well and doesn’t remember any of it.

Halonen was driving to an appointment in downtown Livingston and fell unconscious due to a clogged artery in his heart, Livingston Fire and Rescue EMS Director Nate Wulf said.

Slumped over the wheel, his vehicle coasted into another parked vehicle on the 100 block of South Main Street.

A passerby pulled Halonen from his vehicle, laid him in the snow and began CPR. Staff from the nearby Community Health Partners also responded to the scene.

Livingston Police Detective Joseph Harris was the first to respond to the scene and continued CPR.

Wulf and LFR Capt. Lydia Juhnke were at the station just two blocks away, and Wulf estimates they were at the scene within a minute.

Wulf estimates Halonen was clinically dead for two minutes.

Further support came from the LFR medic team — Holly Tomsheck a firefighter and nurse, and Nate Adams and Drew Franz, both firefighters and paramedics.

The team was returning from a mess of slide-offs on Interstate 90 caused by a morning snowstorm.

The paramedic rescue unit applied a heart monitor and defibrillator on Halonen and successfully shocked his heart into beating once again.

“This was a great community save,” said Wulf, naming all emergency services involved and the Good Samaritans who stepped up in the community.

“Saves are hard to come by, and I’ve only known of two saves where there wasn’t mental damage,” said Franz.

Wulf agreed and said Halonen’s recovery is the best he’s ever seen.

Halonen, a former art teacher and self-described “internationally acclaimed artist and unicyclist” injects a sense of humor about the event throughout conversation with the dozen firefighters, paramedics and first responders.

Halonen and his wife were sentimental and sincere in greeting and thanking the dozen who gathered at his home Tuesday to meet him, as he recovered from the incident.

John spent four days in the hospital in Billings.

He remembers waking up just as the breathing tube was being removed from his throat.

Halonen said that two days before his cardiac arrest, he had a premonition.

“Death visited me in a dream and my job was to capture death, who resembled Napoleon, and didn’t resist capture. Two days later, I’m dead,” said Halonen, reclining in a chair in his living room with Sandra and their golden retriever.

Halonen was tested by a CT scan for potential head trauma and he was determined to be without brain injury,

Wulf said he was stabilized and ultimately saved by the catheterization laboratory, or “Cath Lab,” in Billings, where a few stents were put into his heart.

On doctors orders, Halonen, has been instructed to stay off his unicycle and rest.