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Adam Weig knows what it’s like to face a tough opponent. His teams played several of them when Weig was guiding the boys’ basketball program at South Hardin High School in Eldora.

Weig was head coach for seven seasons, from 2010-17. During that time, the Tigers never confronted a challenge like the one that Weig endured in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day 2019.

While sleeping, he went into cardiac arrest.

Sammi Weig woke up around 1 AM and heard her then-fiancé Adam struggling to breathe. When he wouldn't respond to her calling out his name, Sammi dialed 9-1-1. As she spoke with the dispatcher while waiting for the paramedics to arrive, Adam's breathing worsened and Sammi could not detect a pulse. She started chest compressions.

Responding to the emergency call, Grundy County sheriff’s deputy Zach Andersen was the first officer to arrive at the couple's rural Parkersburg home. Andersen and fellow deputy Kyle Wolthoff administered CPR until the town's ambulance crew got there.

EMT's Leon Schwerdtferger, Reggie Truax and Alan Woodley took over resusitation efforts. They applied the LUCAS Device, a mechanical unit that delivers high-quality, guidelines-consistent chest compressions to sudden cardiac arrest patients.

Adam was loaded into the ambulance and transported to UnityPoint Health-Grundy County Memorial Hospital in Grundy Center, where doctors and nurses went to work trying to revive him.

Andersen stayed with Adam as the ambulance made its way to the emergency room and Wolthoff stayed with Sammi, until a family member arrived to take her to the hospital. When Sammi got to Grundy Center, she was told nothing could be done to save her fiancé's life.

The grim message Sammi received came after the group of first-responders, paramedics and medical professionals had worked for 80 minutes trying resusitate Adam with no apparent results. But, incredibly, their combined lifesaving efforts paid off.

Moments later, a nurse told Sammi that Adam had a pulse. Weig was stabilized and then flown to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, where he was in a coma for two weeks.

On Dec. 23, 2019, Adam woke up from the coma. He was released from the hospital eight days later on New Year's Eve.

In all, 15 people (listed below) were recognized this week for their critical role in saving Weig's life. All of them received the Certificate of Extraodinary Personal Action, the second-oldest lifesaving award given by the American Red Cross. The honor is bestowed upon individuals who do not have Red Cross training, but respond in a way that is consistent with the organization's mission to alliviate human suffering.

Red Cross executives and board members in the Des Moines-based Central Iowa Chapter linked with Grundy County Memorial Hospital Tuesday to present the awards virtually to those gathered for the ceremony at the hospital. Board member Tony Montgomery, a Des Moines bank executive, recounted the details (as described in the above paragraphs) of that frantic Thanksgiving morning during the ceremony.

"Each of the individuals we are honoring, played a vital role to ensure a happy ending to this story," Montgomery said. "It's great to see Adam doing so well. It's because of these critical in-moment decisions, and the actions of the awardees, that Adam is here today."

Weig spoke to the group at the ceremony. He thanked the men and women who saved his life, then took time afterward to embrase and thank each of them personally.

“I don’t remember that day at all,” Weig told the group. “I don’t remember, probably, the first half of the year (2020).

"I’ve talked to a lot of people. They do CPR for 20 minutes and usually call it good," Weig said. "It was an hour-and-a-half and you guys just kept going. You absolutely saved my life."

Nearly 14 months after that near-fatal Thanksgiving Day medical episode, Weig said he has just about made a full recovery. He's working full-time again, teaching special education students at South Hardin High School. Weig is also coaching his son’s youth basketball team, and hanging out with his kids -- Brynley, Kasyn and Tyler -- as much as possible. Weig also revealed that he and Sammi are expecting a baby.

Speaking to the group of honorees, Weig said: "You guys allowed that. I don't want to cry, but I love all of you guys. I thank you so much."

Here are the names of the first-responders, paramedics and medical professionals honored this week by the Red Cross:

First on the scene:

  • Grundy County Sheriff’s Deputy: Zach Andersen, Dike
  • Grundy County Sheriff’s Deputy: Kyle Wolthoff, Grundy Center
  • Dispatcher: Nathan Stahl, Grundy Center (credited with providing CPR guidance on the phone)

Parkersburg Ambulance Crew (Responded To 911 Call):

  • Leon Schwerdtferger, Parkersburg
  • Alan Woodley, Parkersburg
  • Driver: Reggie Truax, Parkersburg

UnityPoint Health - Grundy County Memorial Hospital Emergency Department:

  • Dr. Todd Lawrence, Cedar Falls
  • Dr. Eric Neverman, Grundy Center
  • Nurses: Carol Freeman and Jody Lutterman, Grundy Center
  • Radiologic Tech: Bob Cahalan, Gladbrook
  • Department Clerk: Jennifer Phillips, Wellsburg
  • Former Nurses: Tammi Pierce and Brite Woodruff

American Red Cross National Lifesaving Award Ceremony (March 30, 2021)

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