By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A device purchased after years of requests by Greybull’s fire chief has been used to save the life of the late chief’s own son.
On Nov. 17, a first responder used an automated external defibrillator to revive 25-year-old Nick Murdoch whose father Paul was an early proponent of putting the portable defibrillators in emergency response vehicles.
Murdoch told Cowboy State Daily that on Nov. 17, he had just returned from an emergency trip to a hospital in Billings, Montana, for the treatment of complications from the Type 1 diabetes, a disease Murdoch has lived with since the age of 7.
On his arrival at the hospital on Nov. 14, Nick Murdoch’s heart had to be shocked three times, he said.
“My heart had kind of stopped that night so they shocked me three different times to get it beating regularly again,” he said. “And then they released me from the hospital three days after that.”
Murdoch said he was going to stay with his mother after returning from the hospital so she could keep an eye on him, but they stopped first at his house to pick up a few things.
“I just sat down on the couch and I guess my heart stopped on me,” he said.
What happened next, Murdoch has had to learn from others.
“My mom was outside waiting for me while I was getting my stuff, and my brother was right down the street,” he said, adding that his older brother, Preston, had advanced EMT training. “So luckily, he showed up, and he started doing CPR for five or seven minutes, or whatever it was until the cops showed up with the AED.”
Greybull police officer Drew Patrick was on patrol that night when he got the call.
“(Preston) was doing CPR when I got there,” Patrick said. “And then I hooked up the AED, which recommended that we do the shock. So everybody got back, we shocked him, and then we continued CPR for a little bit until he actually woke up.”
Patrick said he and Preston Murdoch were working hard to keep Nick awake because the ambulance was taking longer than expected to arrive.
“We only have one ambulance in the area, and they were busy already,” he said.
Patrick said once the ambulance arrived, Murdoch was taken to the local hospital and later life-flighted to Billings once again for further treatment.
In a way, it was in part thanks to Murdoch’s father, the late Paul Murdoch, that Nick’s life was saved.
“He was the fire chief in town, and he had seen the AEDs work and pushed for those, as far as helping them get the grant money and stuff like that,” Nick Murdoch said. “He got them in the police department, because he knew they were always in their cars, and always first on scene before the ambulance could show up.”
Three years after Paul’s death, in August of 2020, the Wyoming Department of Health announced that the Helmsley Charitable Trust had donated $4 million to purchase more than 1,500 Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs), which were distributed to law enforcement and first responders across the state.
“I think every police car in Wyoming has one now,” Patrick said.
Although Patrick told Cowboy State Daily that he had worked with the devices before in his 16 years in law enforcement, this was the first time that he had actually saved a life using an AED.
“I had the right tools to do what I needed to do, and they worked,” he said.
“I would recommend anywhere there’s people, to have an AED for sure,” added Murdoch.