GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Emergency Services presented several people with certificates of recognition on Friday, April 8, 2022, for their actions that saved the life of Rick Halmes last year.
For Halmes, what was intended to be a fun weekend at a softball tournament in Great Falls in May 2021 ended in a trip to the hospital.
While that is surely not the way he wanted his weekend to end, during a recognition ceremony on Friday for those who helped save his life, he thanked them for making the trip possible.
"Oh, gosh. I remember pulling in to the softball field and coming up to center field and that's the last thing I remember,” Halmes said.
Halmes doesn't remember much about May 8, 2021 but it's a day he'll never forget. As he arrived at the softball field, septic shock stopped his heart.
"I slumped over in the seat and quit breathing,” Halmes recalled.
Longtime friend Barry Newmack was one of several people who came to his aid, pulling Halmes out of his SUV and starting CPR.
"His head was pointing down on about a 25-degree grade. I knew we had to get his head pointed up or else he'd asphyxiate,” said Newmack.
At the time, Newmack didn't recognize Halmes and didn't find out until well after that day who he had helped save.
"From the looks, he was dead as far as I was concerned. It's a great story, it really is,” Newmack said.
EMS eventually arrived to help and got Halmes to the hospital.
"Somebody showed me some pictures of how I'd come in, what I'd looked like in the hospital bed. It didn't scare me for me, it scared me for my family and what I must've put them through,” said Halmes.
Shane Griffin also helped save Halmes' life. Griffin is a respiratory therapist who happened to be at the softball tournament.
"I ran from home plate all the way around to where they were because they were behind center field. When I got there, Rick was already pulled up on the side. Somebody was doing chest compressions. I still had my coat on. I took over the chest compressions, I finished breaking all of Rick's ribs unfortunately. We broke, actually, 14 of them,” said Griffin.
When asked what he'd like to say to all those who helped, Halmes didn't hesitate: "There's not enough I can say. Instead of a handshake now, when I see Barry it’s a hug and the same thing with Shane."
If you'd like to learn CPR, you can contact the American Red Cross or Great Falls Emergency Services.
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