“Get an AED Now”: Device Saves Life at Andrea Nisler’s Gym in Roseville

October 31, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Timberwolf Fitness (@ timberwolf_fitness)
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The 3:30 p.m. class at Timberwolf Fitness in Roseville, MN had just finished doing some wall sits and banded hamstring curls and were about to start some conditioning when owner Andrea Nisler noticed one of the six people in the low impact class was curled in a ball on the ground.

“I thought that was strange…My first thought was, ‘Shoot he must have sprained an ankle.’ Then I heard someone say, ‘Call 911,’ and I knew it was something much more pressing,” said Nisler, a two-time CrossFit Games team champion with CrossFit Mayhem Freedom, who only intended to be at the gym “for literally five minutes” to drop off some groceries and say hi to her dad who was also in the class.

Nisler was there a whole lot longer than that, as it appeared the member was going into cardiac arrest. That’s when an off-duty police officer Sergeant Michael Dahl stepped in.

“I was five minuted into my WOD when I noticed a few people huddled over someone towards the front of the gym,” remembers Dahl.

“The gym is where I relieve most of my stress, so I tend to have a different mindset when I am there (compared to being at work). It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on, but once I knew somebody needed help my body went into auto pilot,” he said, adding that he knows the member quite well.

After rolling the member onto his back and assessing his airway, breathing and circulation, he “could not find a pulse or see or hear that he was breathing,” said Dahl, who then started chest compressions as another member called 911.

Dahl continued chest compressions until someone handed him the AED, and then he ripped open the member’s shirt and administered the first shock.

“He began breathing and I was able to feel a pulse,” Dahl said. But after a few seconds, the pulse faded.

He continued CPR, and the member regained a pulse once again, but appeared to be “delirious,” Dahl said. 

That’s when paramedics arrived and rushed him to the hospital, where it was discovered that the member actually had heart arrhythmia, which doctors told him almost always ends in sudden cardiac death.

“Mike Dahl literally saved this man’s life. If he had been anywhere else when this happened, the chances of having someone that reacted as quickly as Mike did would be slim,” Nisler said.

No surprise, the event last Thursday left her community in shock, but now that they know their fellow gym buddy is going to pull through, “the community is met with relief and appreciation for Mike,” she said. 

Dahl added: “The willingness of people to help during a stressful situation such as this is a testament of what the CrossFit community is all about. This is why I relate so well with the community and am proud to be a part of it.”

Nisler’s Message: Not only should every gym have an AED on hand, but it’s especially important to remember to keep it up-to-date and charged.

When Nisler purchased her gym in 2019, there was an AED there already, but more recently she purchased a newer one and had a professional come out to “ensure it is functioning,” she said.

“I know these things are just an addition to the rising overhead costs of owning a gym, but I literally would cut out buying toilet paper before I would ever cut out keeping my AED up-to-date,” Nisler said.

She added: “Also, please get your coaches CPR and AED certified. We will now be getting all of our coaches a refresher course next month. That hour class could literally save someone’s life.”

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