‘I was dead on the side of the road’

Members of the Farmington Fire and Police departments, Allina Health Emergency Medical Services and HealthEast Medical Transportation receive the Outstanding EMS Award May 30. The first responders were honored for saving the life of then-17-year-old Travis Glenzer. From back left are Farmington police officers Christopher Lutz, Sgt. Andy Bellows and Dan Miller; Farmington firefighters Kevin Roach, Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Allbee, firefighter Aasa Just and Capt. Adam Fischer; supervisor Andrew Gaughan. Front row: paramedics Arthur Byron, Laura Rinker and Jennifer Schaffner; Travis Glenzer; paramedics McKinzie Flynn and Robert Stanfield.

Farmington first responders honored for saving Travis Glenzer’s life

Valentine’s Day 2018 was a life-changing day for Travis Glenzer.

Then 17 years old, Glenzer was driving when he got pulled over by Farmington Police Officer Chris Lutz for speeding.

But he doesn’t remember pulling over, or much of anything from that day, because he went into cardiac arrest.

Now, nearly a year and a half later, 19-year-old Glenzer is doing fine, but he says it’s thanks to Lutz and the other first responders who saved his life.

The incident

Glenzer said he only knows details that were told to him after the fact. He doesn’t even recall what happened a few days before the incident.

It’s a different story for Lutz, who was the first officer on the scene.

After pulling Glenzer over and knocking on his car’s window, Lutz noticed that Glenzer wasn’t responding to him and the dark tint on the car’s windows made it hard to see inside.

Eventually, Lutz said he was able to angle himself to see inside the car and saw Glenzer thrashing around in his seat and moaning. His fists were balled up and he was “kind of in a fetal position,” Lutz said.

Lutz said he assumed Glenzer was having some sort of medical emergency and initially believed it was a diabetic reaction, since he has come across those situations before.

He did a quick scan of the vehicle to make sure there weren’t any drugs, weapons or indicators of a chemical suicide before opening the car door.

While waiting for the medics to arrive, Lutz said Glenzer quit breathing.

He and Sgt. Andy Bellows and Officer Dan Miller pulled Glenzer from the car, but then found Glenzer didn’t have a pulse. They began CPR and AED intervention, and shortly after that, Allina Ambulance and the Farmington Fire Department arrived on scene and took over medical care, finding that Glenzer’s pulse had retuned.

Glenzer was transported to Fairview Ridges Hospital, then to Children’s Hospital, where he spent the next 17 days.

Aftermath

Glenzer said he didn’t wake up until about 14 days into his 17-day hospital stay.

“I woke up and I had a breathing tube in, and had to figure out how to walk again because I was laying down for so long,” Glenzer said.

His muscles had atrophied, meaning he needed physical therapy both inside and outside of the hospital. He said he also contracted pneumonia while he was in the hospital.

“It was hard because I went from being independent to fully relying on other people. I couldn’t drive or anything like that,” Glenzer said.

About nine days into his hospital stay, doctors diagnosed Glenzer with a genetic condition called Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia.

It’s a rare heart rhythm disorder that is estimated to affect about 1 in 10,000 people.

When people with the disease experience physical activity or emotional stress, it can trigger an abnormally fast and irregular heartbeat. These episodes can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting or cardiac arrest.

Glenzer underwent surgery to implant a Pacemaker and takes two beta blockers a day to manage his condition.

Prior to his cardiac arrest, Glenzer said he didn’t have symptoms aside from a similar incident that happened in September 2018.

He said he was pulled over and fainted, but didn’t go into cardiac arrest.

“I got checked out and everything. All the doctors said it was good, because it’s like one of those rare conditions that can only be sensed while it’s happening. So that’s why they didn’t find anything there,” Glenzer said.

Glenzer said that prior to his medical emergency, he had planned on joining the military to work on tanks.

Because of his heart condition, the military is no longer an option. But now Glenzer, a 2018 Farmington High School graduate, is going to Dakota County Technical College to be an automotive technician.

Honored

Recently the Dakota County EMS Council celebrated Emergency Medical Services Week, and honored the first responders who helped save Glenzer’s life.

Farmington Police Chief Gary Rutherford nominated the first responders involved for the Outstanding EMS Response Award, which was presented May 30.

Individuals recognized were Farmington police officers Lutz and Miller; Sgt. Bellows; Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Allbee; Fire Capt. Adam Fischer; firefighters Aasa Just and Kevin Roach; supervisor Andrew Gaughan; and paramedics Robert Stanfield, McKinzie Flynn, Jennifer Schaffner, Laura Rinker and Arthur Byron.

Agencies recognized were the Farmington Police Department, Farmington Fire Department, Allina Health Emergency Medical Services and HealthEast Medical Transportation.

Lutz said that since the incident, he’s kept in contact with Glenzer and his family, and got to meet the whole family at Glenzer’s graduation last year.

Lutz said he got to catch up with the family again at the EMS Awards banquet.

“(It was) definitely an awesome moment to share that with everybody that helped contribute to this and have his family there again.

“It’s really cool to see this side of it. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the job, and … it’s kind of nice to see the backside of everything. You get to hear his story and who he is and what his goals were,” Lutz said.

Glenzer said that meeting the people who saved his life was “really touching to me.”

“I realized it’s important for us to meet them, but I didn’t realize how important it was for them to meet us and me after the fact. Because they never get to see … what the outcome of it is.

“It was just nice to meet all of them because they’re the ones that saved my life. I was dead on the side of the road at 17, and they saved my life.”

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