CPR Save in Sheboygan

Becca Barrus

Becca Barrus

Web Exclusives

Mike Brungraber knows his way around emergency services. The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office (Wisconsin, USA) emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) has been in the profession for 36 years. When he was 16, he started dispatching for a private ambulance service and graduated high school and EMT school at the same time, and he’s been in first response ever since.

“When it comes to public safety, Mike is the most passionate person I know,” said Eric Zinkel, Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center Manager.

Brungraber is a Communications Officer, CTO, and EMD-Q for Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, as well as a member of the county’s Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) team, EMS Captain at Town of Sheboygan Fire Department, Communications Specialist EMT at Orange Cross Ambulance (OCA) Service, county SWAT team medic, and drone team member. All in all, definitely the kind of experienced and qualified professional you want answering the phone when you’re having an emergency!

And just after 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning in October 2021, someone was on the receiving end of that professionalism. A woman found her 84-year-old husband collapsed on the pier behind their lake house. She didn’t know how long he had been down. Brungraber asked the right questions and found out that the patient was totally unresponsive and not breathing—his wife even mentioned that he was turning blue.

The area the woman was calling from was somewhat rural. The ambulance had to come from a town some five miles away and would take about 10 minutes to get there because of the windy roads. In the middle of giving the woman CPR instructions, Brungraber made sure he got an accurate location for the responders. He wanted to make sure exactly where they were on the property; the homes in that area tend to have long driveways and lots of property so pinpointing their exact location would cut down on time wasted trying to find them.

It took 6 minutes and 46 seconds before nearby law enforcement got there to take over CPR. Before they arrived, Brungraber continued to give reassuring statements to the caller and the neighbor who had come to help, which encouraged them to keep giving the patient the best chance at life they could. And thankfully, those joint efforts paid off. Brungraber knew that the patient was alive when his OCA team arrived at the hospital with the patient, and he eventually found out that the patient had survived.

Brungraber has saved many, many lives on the EMT side of things and has even delivered 17 babies in the field. However, this was only his second time saving a life on the other side of the phone using the MPDS. (The first was in 2018.)

“EMD certainly works,” Brungraber said. “Getting hands on chest works. The caller was willing to work with us with the protocol. All the stars were in alignment that day and everything worked out and, thankfully, we had a great outcome.”

Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office dispatches for fire, police, and EMS and is the PSAP for the entire county. They dispatch for 22 fire departments (21 of which are volunteer-based, including the one Brungraber serves on), six police agencies (plus the state patrol), and three different ambulance services. They serve the county’s population of 120,000, roughly half of which live in the city of Sheboygan, and the rest are spread out in the 520-square-mile county. Last year, the center handled 31,754 emergency calls, 9,546 of which were specifically handled with the MPDS.