Minnesota man Howard Snitzer survived for an incredible 96 minutes without a pulse thanks to a device called a capnograph—and the determination of two dozen first responders. The device, which measures how much carbon dioxide is expelled with each breath, lets doctors know how much blood is being carried to vital organs. It was carried by a nurse who treated the 54-year-old after he collapsed from a heart attack. Responders, encouraged by signals that their efforts were working, took turns to continue CPR on Snitzer long after emergency room doctors told them he was dead. He survived without brain damage.
"The lesson that I certainly learned from this is you don't quit—you keep trying as long as you have objective, measurable evidence that the patient's brain is being protected by adequate blood flow as determined by the capnographic data," the anesthesiologist who managed to get Snitzer's heart beating normally again tells NPR. Capnographs were once only used in operating rooms but they are slowly becoming standard equipment for emergency responders. Snitzer's case shows that it is technology that emergency teams can't do without, says the anesthesiologist. (Read more capnography stories.)