Quick action by Osakis students saves school Santa

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Thanks to the quick response of several high school students, a man from central Minnesota received one of the best Christmas gifts anyone could ask for.

"That's the most precious thing of all -- the gift of life," Dan Wessel of Osakis told KARE 11.

At the request of his wife, a teacher at Osakis High School, Wessel dressed up as Santa and visited the school district's youngest children one morning last week.

Before leaving school grounds, Wessel popped his head into his wife's classroom and "did his ho-ho-ho," Kirsten Wessel said.

Moments later, students spotted Santa collapse in the hallway. He had gone into cardiac arrest.

KARE 11 says one student ran to the get the school nurse while another student called 911. A third student retrieved the school's AED, or automated external defibrillators, a device that can send a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm.

School nurse Angie Baker used the AED and performed CPR to revive Wessel before paramedics arrived.

Dan Wessel survived his second cardiac arrest this year and now has a defibrillator implanted in his chest in case his heart stops again.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation says about 250,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States each year -- the leading cause of death among adults over 40.

At least 6,000 of those deaths involve children, who are most often stricken at school or playing sports. That's why Minnesota state law will require every public school building to have an AED by Jan. 1, 2014.

If CPR and defibrillation are performed on cardiac arrest victims within eight minutes of collapse, they stand a 20 percent chance of survival.

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