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Hagerstown man thanks police for role in saving his life

August 06, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Nelson Brumback, center, laughs with Hagerstown Police Department officers Ryan Wertz, left, and Langley Dean Saturday morning, one week after the officers helped save Brumback's life.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

On July 30, the Hagerstown man had no pulse and wasn’t breathing.

Two days later, he was reading a magazine and joking with family and friends.

Brumback, 57, doesn’t remember much about the Saturday that started out normally, but ended with doctors considering he might be brain-dead.

He does recall having chest pains and balking at going to the hospital.

But at the insistence of his partner of 19 years, Kris Mumma, he climbed into the passenger seat of their car and agreed to be driven to Meritus Medical Center.

Traveling down Frederick Street during the morning hours, Mumma said Brumback suddenly collapsed and fell into her. Pulling to the side of the road, she immediately called 911 and began administering CPR.

Within three minutes, Mumma said several police officers arrived at the scene.

Officer Langley Dean was heading from the Dual Highway area and Officer Ryan Wertz was driving from downtown Hagerstown to Wilson Boulevard when they responded to the dispatch.

The police typically respond to calls like this, Wertz said, because they have some emergency medical training and might be the first on the scene.

When they arrived, they found Brumback unresponsive and began administering CPR. They also used an automated external defibrillator (AED).

“Nelson probably wouldn’t have lived without their help,” Mumma said “His heart began beating again and he was breathing.”

Mumma said Brumback was taken to Meritus by ambulance, where doctors, concerned with the temporary lack of oxygen to the brain, lowered his body temperature to 33 degrees Celsius, which is between 91 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

“At one point, the medical staff thought he might become brain-dead,” Mumma said. “Evidently, studies show that this procedure helps the brain.”

With 100 percent blockage of his major artery, Brumback also received a stent.

By Monday, Mumma said, Brumback was sitting up in bed, talking and joking.

“The doctors call my recovery a miracle,” Brumback said. “But I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the help I received from the two officers.”

To show their appreciation, Brumback and Mumma met with Dean and Wertz, as well as several other members of the police department, Saturday morning in the parking lot of Susquehanna Bank on Frederick Street.

“This is where it all happened,” Mumma said. “In fact, it was one week almost to the minute as we pulled into the parking lot today.”

Brumback said he knew the morning might be emotional for him.

“After all, they helped save my life,” he said. “I wanted to let them know how much we appreciated everything they did.”

Mumma said in addition to offering assistance to Brumback, they provided her with needed support during a traumatic time.

“They pulled my car into the parking lot, they drove me to the hospital, helped me make phone calls and stayed with me until family arrived, ” she said. “They went above and beyond the call of duty. Without them, things could have been a lot more difficult. I can’t thank them enough.”

She said she also received calls later in the week from the officers who wanted to follow up on Brumback’s condition after he had returned home.

“I’ve always considered police officers heroes. But these two guys will always be my special heroes,” she said.

Mumma said the couple originally planned on sending thank-you notes to the officers, but then decided they wanted to say “thank you” in person.

Mary King, the city of Hagerstown’s communications manager, said arrangements were made for everyone involved to meet Saturday morning.

“It’s not every day that you hear a story like this,” she said. “It was a very scary incident that had a happy ending.”

“It was the greatest thing to see Mr. Brumback get out of the car today and walk toward us,” Dean said. “One week ago, we weren’t sure he would make it. It could have gone either way.”

It’s also rewarding “knowing the training we’ve had paid off successfully,” he added.

Wertz said this wasn’t his first medical emergency, “but the first one that turned out positively.”

“This is special,” he said. “To see him here today is a good feeling.”

Brumback hopes he and the officers will stay in touch “because how often does someone save your life,” he said.

“There are certain people that you want to stay in contact with,” Wertz said. “This is one of those people.”

Brumback said he had a heart attack about 10 years ago. With the recent incident, he said he’ll be taking much better care of himself.

“I’m a workaholic,” he said. “Plus, I don’t like to ask for help. That’s the way I am. But I know I have to make some changes.”

The father of four children and grandfather of two, Brumback is employed at V-T Industries in Hagerstown.

“He’s one of the best men you’ll ever meet,” Mumma said. “He’s genuine. And he’s back to making me laugh with his jokes. I’ve cried a lot, so it’s a good feeling to laugh again.”

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