Ambulance that hit pothole on way to hospital may have saved patient’s life, doctors say

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Free picture (A road barrier lays on its side by a pothole) from

GRETNA, Neb. (KLFY) – (4/22/19) Gretna Fire and Rescue, outside of Omaha, Nebraska, was dispatched to help a 59-year-old man Monday whose heart was racing at work.

The squad had a 20-minute drive to the emergency room, and at one point, the patient’s heart was beating at a rate of 200 beats per minute.

During the 7-mile ride, the rig hit a pothole.

Medics told the hospital, as relayed by the Omaha Scanner on Twitter, that the jolt of the pothole converted the patient’s racing heart to normal rhythms.

“It’s rare, but it’s a well-described phenomenon,” Dr. Andrew Goldsweig, of Nebraska Medicine, said.

He wasn’t the physician on the case but explained how the jarring from the pothole can be so helpful.

“One way to treat (a rapid heartbeat) is with an electrical shock. Classically, you’ll see it on television, the paddles, (someone saying) ‘Clear’ and a big jolt. Turns out, you can do that with a pothole,” Goldsweig said.

Gretna Fire and Rescue’s chief declined to talk about where the lifesaving pothole was located so that the patient’s privacy would not be violated.

Friends of the patient said he will surely be looking at potholes a little differently from now one.

Goldsweig said there’s a well-documented case from the late ’70s where the patient was jolted into a normal heart rhythm by a speed bump.

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