By BRIAN WALKER
Hagadone News Network
POST FALLS — Joe Vogel's voice trembled with emotion when he thanked Post Falls Police Officer Christoffer Christensen for giving him a priceless gift.
"You bought me more time with my family," the 49-year-old Post Falls man told the officer.
Christensen was the first responder to assist in reviving Vogel after he’d suffered a heart attack at his home on Nov. 4, 2018. Vogel presented Christensen with a Buck knife at the police department during a touching reunion Thursday.
"I can't thank you enough," Vogel said to Christensen. "You were in the right place at the right time. It it wasn't for you, I would not be here. That's for certain."
Christensen said he was on patrol when he received the report of an unconscious man who was not breathing. He arrived at Vogel's home in four minutes.
"When I showed up, his son (Parker) was outside waving me in," Christensen said. "Luckily, I had an AED (automated external defibrillator) in my car."
When Christensen rushed to the basement, Vogel's wife, Diane, was moving Vogel from the couch to the floor to start CPR.
"I started compressions on him and walked her through setting up the AED," Christensen said.
Christensen administered a shock with the AED and continued with compressions until Kootenai County Fire and Rescue responders arrived. By the time Vogel was transported to Kootenai Health, he had regained a pulse.
"It is without a doubt that the quick response and skilled life-saving efforts from Officer Christensen is why Mr. Vogel is still alive today," Post Falls Police Chief Pat Knight said. "Officer Christensen is truly a credit to this department."
Christensen was humble about his effort.
"I was happy I was there to help," Christensen told Vogel. "I was also happy that I was just down the road. It worked out really well."
Vogel regained consciousness after nine days in the hospital.
"I knew that I had a bad heart, but I didn't know that it was that bad," said Vogel, who now has a pacemaker and visits a heart clinic regularly.
Post Falls Police officers started using AEDs as a matter of course about five years ago through a partnership and training with Kootenai County Fire and Rescue. Police officers are often the first responders on scene because they are already on the street.
Christensen has worked for Post Falls for nearly two years. Before that he was a detention deputy for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.
Vogel said he wanted to thank Christensen earlier and attend last month's City Council meeting in which the officer and others on the Post Falls staff were honored for outstanding achievements, but he couldn't because of a family emergency.
"Post Falls Police is the greatest as far as I'm concerned," Vogel told Christensen. "You guys do a fantastic job of making this place a safe town. And guys like you make it even better."
Vogel said he wanted Christensen to have the knife with his name engraved as a keepsake for his Post Falls service.
"I know a young officer like you may not stick around forever, but this can be a remembrance of your service to the city," Vogel said.