Posted on 11/21/2021
Andy Taylor
Andy Taylor

Survivor: Richard Protsman

Date of Event:

Location of Event: Polson, Montana

Andy Taylor and Rodney Depoe

On Wednesday August 25, 2021, a group of friends were headed out to enjoy the afternoon on Flathead Lake in the Northwest Region of Montana.

As they cruised away from the shoreline, one of the passengers stated he wasn’t feeling well and collapsed. The driver wheeled the boat around to head back to shore. The group frantically lifted their friend out of the vessel onto an adjacent concrete platform and resumed CPR, led by longtime friend Andy Taylor. 

As they summoned 911, they realized they did not know the location of the launch where they were docked. One of the group ran down the ramp yelling out to an approaching boat whose operator told them they were at the Walstad boat ramp. 

Rodney Depoe, who had been fishing that day, was the operator of the approaching boat. He was on call for the Mission Valley Power Company and had driven his work truck in case he was needed for a power call. The local power company had placed AEDs in the rigs 10 years earlier for the protection of their linesman. Rodney ran up to the truck and returned with the AED that had been sitting idle for all those years. 

As Andy and the others switched off delivering CPR on the banks of Flathead Lake, Rodney supplied the solo lifesaving jolt from that voice activated AED, which then prompted them to “Continue CPR” for next four or five rhythm checks.

Their friend was airlifted to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, WA, where he began his miraculous recovery.

On that day, the stars were aligned for Richard Protsman, 76. His story is incredible, his survival is a miracle, and his life is a tribute to a group of selfless friends, a company’s decision to empower their employees with AEDs, and the action of two heroic bystanders who happened to be fishing that day.

Nominated by Ryan Schaefer, Providence Sacred Heart, Spokane, WA