Lifesaving Award: Florence man receives Kingsford award

By NIKKI YOUNK

Staff Writer

KINGSFORD – After suffering serious injuries in a traffic accident in May, Rich Koski of Florence, Wis., thought that his career in training emergency responders was over.

It was a Nov. 2 incident in Kingsford that offered him the inspiration to continue.

Koski was at an auction when he noticed that a man standing behind him was suffering from a heart attack. Though his arm was in a brace and he hadn’t knelt down since his accident, Koski sprang into action and began performing CPR.

With the help of others at the scene, Koski was able to assist the man until ambulance personnel arrived.

On Friday, the Kingsford Public Safety Department presented Koski with a Lifesaving Award for his efforts. Also present was the man whose life he helped save, Bryan Toedter of Iron Mountain.

Toedter expressed his gratitude to Koski, Kingsford Public Safety, and the medical staff who treated him.

“I appreciate everything everyone’s done for me,” he said.

Koski noted that Toedter’s recovery has influenced his own.

For 40 years, Koski had been involved in the emergency medical services (EMS) field. He said that he also spent time teaching EMS to others in third world countries like Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Egypt.

All of that came to an end on May 26, when Koski was involved in a motorcycle versus car accident in L’Anse.

Koski said that he sustained fractures to his sternum, ribs, hip, pelvis, and femur. He added that his left arm was badly injured.

“I remember seeing myself and knowing I wasn’t going to make it, I gave up and quit breathing,” he said. “No one expected me to live.”

Koski admitted that his recovery has been difficult.

“My progress has been incremental and my disabilities won’t just go away, but Bryan has inspired the hope I almost lost,” he said. “Bryan and I still have a long way to recovery and I am not sure how or when that will happen, but for me, it will be when I am back in Africa and South America with the dedicated people that became my family.”

Koski hopes that his and Toedter’s stories will inspire others to become first responders or at least learn some emergency medical techniques.

“With CPR, the first three minutes are critical,” said Koski. “The more people who are trained, the more it works.”

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.