Police officers finish shoveling driveway after man collapses

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Two police officers in Willmar went above and beyond their regular duties after they got a call that an elderly man had collapsed while shoveling snow outside his home.

Police Chief Jim Felt tells BringMeTheNews officers Joshua Helgeson and Marco Vazquez responded to the call Monday. They performed CPR on the 84-year-old man and used a defibrillator, the department said on Facebook.

When the ambulance arrived, paramedics took over and brought the man to Rice Hospital.

The officers' job was done – but they couldn't bring themselves to leave without finishing the older couple's driveway.

So they picked up the shovel and got to work.

Chief Felt says when the men returned to the department, they kept quiet about their good deed. In fact, the chief didn't find out the men took the time to shovel until they explained why the call took a little longer.

He describes both Helgeson and Vazquez as being very "community minded" and "modest."

Officer Helgeson didn't even tell his wife about it, Minnesota Public Radio reports. She found out via Facebook.

Police later got some unfortunate news however: The older man whose driveway they cleared later died, according to Felt.

The officers said shoveling was the least they could do since the man's family was already dealing with tragedy, according to Facebook.

Officer Helgeson told MPR News the man's wife also had health problems and the officers didn't want her to have to deal with the driveway on top of everything else.

Heart attacks and shoveling

According to the American Heart Association, the combination of physical exertion and cold temperatures can increase the risk of heart attack. The association says being active in the cold "increases the workload on the heart."

Taking breaks and not eating a big meal or drinking alcohol before shoveling can help keep people safe.

The association also says it's important to know the warning signs of a heart attack. Call 911 if you experience chest discomfort, shortness of breath, discomfort in areas of the upper body, nausea, cold sweats or lightheadedness.

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