At the Dec. 17 City Commission meeting, three individuals were honored for their heroic acts of service in saving the life of a young man, Jeremiah Vroegindewey, who collapsed while playing soccer at Memorial Stadium this past summer.
For their actions, East Grand Rapids Staff Sergeant Eric Smith received the Life Saving Award and Unit Citation and Officer Jon Karnes received a Unit Citation. Spectrum Health Physician Assistant Megan Zabawa, a bystander at the time, received the Chief’s Citation for performing and assisting with outstanding lifesaving actions. Although unable to attend the award presentation, Officers Zach Nagtzaam and Dan Lobbezoo have also been recognized—Officer Nagtzaam receiving the Life Saving Award and a Unit Citation and Officer Lobbezoo receiving a Unit Citation.
“I am so impressed and thankful for the heroic actions of our officers and Megan,” EGR Chief Mark Herald said. “Not only were our crossed-trained officers able to arrive at the stadium within a matter of minutes, they had arrived with a community member already aiding the young man.”
This incident took place in the late evening of June 20. Officer Zach Nagtzaam received a medical call from Kent County Dispatch that a teenager at Memorial Stadium had collapsed while playing soccer. Dispatch also advised Officer Nagtzaam that the patient was conscious, curled up and moaning.
Upon arrival, Officer Nagtzaam located Jeremiah lying on the field, receiving chest compressions from Ms. Zabawa. She continued performing CPR as Officer Nagtzaam checked for a pulse. Not feeling one, he set up the BVM (bag-valve-mask) with an oxygen supply.
Staff Sergeant Smith arrived to assist the situation as Officer Nagtzaam prepared the AED (automatic external defibrillator) and set up the LUCAS CPR device for activation, which advised a shock moments later. Following the shock, CPR was started with the LUCAS CPR device.
Officers Dan Lobbezoo and Jon Karnes then arrived on-scene, immediately providing assistance as an OPA (oropharyngeal airway) was used to assist Jeremiah’s breathing. Over the next couple of minutes, two additional AED shocks and continuous CPR were performed. After the third shock, Jeremiah regained a pulse and began to breathe on his own.
Once the ambulance arrived, all East Grand Rapids staff assisted with stabilizing and loading Jeremiah into the ambulance. Officer Lobbezoo then traveled with the ambulance to Butterworth Hospital to assist with patient care.
“It is also thanks to our advanced technology that we were able to help Jeremiah regain consciousness,” Chief Herald noted during the meeting. “We are such a fortunate community to have these devices to help our residents and visitors.”
Due to Ms. Zabawa and the officers’ actions, Jeremiah’s life was saved and he has since fully recovered.
“I am eternally grateful for our superb Public Safety Department,” Mayor Amna Seibold said, while presenting the heroes with their awards. “Their dedication to making East Grand Rapids a safe community is what draws so many to live in this City. I can never fully articulate how incredible they are—it’s truly heartwarming.”