Tom Speldrich doesn't remember anything after he collapsed from a heart attack while working last month at 4000 Valley Square.

But he says he's extraordinarily lucky it happened when and where it did.

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It was mid-morning Feb. 8 when Speldrich, 43, finished his work and was getting ready to gather his things and head to his next job with Dakota Fire Protection. He was in a secluded hallway leading to the back of the building where his truck was parked.

"I punched in a code to get out of the building," he said. "I was punching the number in and I collapsed."

Speldrich had a massive heart attack.

His co-worker, Nick Dohman, yelled for help and dialed 911. Therese Brierley, an employee in the business office, heard the "hollering" and went down the hall to check it out. She alerted others.

Nurses Katie Eck and Carra Hindberg came running. They performed CPR, as did Wanda Armstrong, another nurse, who pitched in, too, to do chest compressions.

At times, Speldrich's heartbeat and breathing returned, but then stopped, Hindberg said.

"We resuscitated him four times," she said.

Nurse Jacinda Nelson called the code over the intercom, summoning a team with resuscitating equipment. They used an AED, automated external defibrillator, to shock and restart Speldrich's heart.

Although they'd never had to deal with an incident of this kind, the nurses have clear memories. But fear wasn't foremost.

"I think my nursing brain kicked in," Hindberg said.

"The adrenalin kicked in, for sure," Eck said. "Our main goal was keeping him alive. We wanted to get him home to his family."

In the 9 minutes it took for paramedics to arrive-which "seemed like forever," Nelson said- the team stabilized him and then the paramedics took him by ambulance to Altru Hospital where he had surgery to implant a stent in his heart.

"It was hard that day because, when he left here, we didn't know how he was," said Mindy Marcus, administrator of 4000 Valley Square.

"I'm just happy I'm still here," Speldrich said. "And I'm happy I was here" at 4000 Valley Square.

Fortunate timing

The timing of the heart attack was fortunate, Speldrich and his wife, Kristin, said.

"Ten minutes earlier, I would have been on a extension ladder, 15 or 16 feet up in the air," he said.

At his next scheduled job that day, at LM Glasfiber, "I would have been in a lift 60 feet in the air," he said. "If it had happened there, I probably wouldn't be here."

"He could have been driving," Kristin Speldrich said. "Typically, he's off work on Fridays. He would have been home and by himself. Nobody would have been there to help him."

If it had it happened at home that day, "he wouldn't be here today," she said.

Her husband had never had heart problems.

"He's a pretty healthy guy, for the most part," Kristin said. But the heart attack he had is called a "widow-maker."

"The main artery in his heart was 80 percent blocked. Typically, you don't get help; you don't survive. He's our miracle."

Before the event, Kristin, her husband and their 19-year-old son went to 4000 Valley Square to meet and thank staff members who saved him.

"When they told me they wanted to put on a benefit, I told them they didn't have to do anything more," she said. "They had already given the ultimate gift anybody could give: my husband's life."

On March 7, 4000 Valley Square staff hosted a benefit meal to raise funds to help Speldrich with medical expenses.

"It was good to have the staff involved," Hindberg said. "(His heart attack) impacted all of us."

"It was great for the staff to see him doing so well," Marcus said.

Barb Holien, assistant director of environmental services, who initiated the benefit meal, grilled burgers and Tom helped serve the picnic-style meal. The event raised $1,100. The check was presented to him Friday.

Kristin Speldrich is overwhelmed by the "unbelievable kindness in our community," she said.

The nurses who came to his aid are "miracle workers" and "angels," she said. "They're unbelievable.

"There aren't words to describe what they did for him."