Dr. Peter Pauley, a Bellevue dentist and resident for more than four decades, was technically dead on July 7, 2020.
He and his wife Jeanne were outside in their driveway at their home south of Bellevue, getting their boat ready to go out on the river when it happened.
“I was in the truck and he was out by the boat loading things up, and suddenly, he just disappeared from view,” said Jeanne. “I yelled a few times but there was no response. I got out and walked back to the boat and there he was on the ground, his eyes rolled back in his head.”
Pauley had suffered a severe heart attack, and his wife quickly did the right thing. She called Max Reed of Bellevue Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on her cell phone and he was one of the first on the scene. Then she called her neighbor, Eric Strathman, who ran over and immediately started administering CPR on Pauley.
“At that time, they told me later that I was technically dead,” said Pauley, who doesn’t remember much of what happened that summer afternoon.
Max Reed, who co-founded the Bellevue Ambulance Service with the late Bob Ernst in 1972, said that he remembers getting the call from Jeanne, who screamed through the phone, ‘get down here now.’
“When I got there, Eric had already started CPR, but neither one of us could get a pulse,” said Reed. “We continued CPR until the police arrived with a defib unit.
First at the scene were two officers from the Bellevue Police Department, Hunter Zeimet and Adam McPherson. Then the Bellevue Fire Department showed up with first responders Mike Sturm, Tyler Peters, Ryan Hupfeld and Nick Schroeder.
Seconds later, Bellevue EMS paramedics and technicians arrived, including Lyn Medinger, Chris Read, Greg Schulte, Rob Roben and Terry Mueller.
All the while Jeannie was on the phone with the 911 operator.
“I’m yelling that you gotta get down here,” she recalled. “I was put through to Clinton 911 first, then Maquoketa and then, finally Bellevue. But by the time the 911 system made the dispatch all the emergency responders were already there, and they saved his life.”
Pauly was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque, where he was in the hospital for about a week before coming home and continuing to recover.
He’s lucky his wife was there to make the calls, he was lucky there wasn’t a train going by at the time, and he was lucky that the Lord above was looking out for him,” said Reed.
While Pauley doesn’t remember much about the incident, he talked to Reed later, who told him the entire story.
“I’ve lived in Bellevue for 42 years and sometimes took the Bellevue EMS and rescue personnel for granted,” said Pauley. “We need to always be grateful for their dedication, hard work and countless hours of work and training, because they can be the difference between life and death. They are the unsung heroes.”
“Overall, I am just so glad I live in Bellevue,” he concluded. “This is a great community.”