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Washington County man saved by stepdaughter after going into cardiac arrest

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Washington County man has his stepdaughter to thank for his life.

Curt Vorpahl went into cardiac arrest last week at a family gathering at his home on Green Lake.

He beat the odds and survived because of lightning-quick thinking from his stepdaughter, Rachel Nelson.

Nelson became CPR-certified six weeks ago.

"I recognized that he was in cardiac distress and my training kicked in right away, and I knew we had to start the compressions as soon as possible,” she said.

She says it was her family being there that helped her remain clear-headed and push emotion aside.

“I knew I couldn’t let him go,” Nelson said. “I didn’t want to let my family down.”

Marie Vorpahl, Rachel’s mother, says she panicked when she saw her husband in trouble.

“It was a very surreal situation,” she said. “I was in admiration and awe of my daughter."

Nelson’s efforts kept Vorpahl alive for the emergency responders who arrived shortly after.

Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis happened to be on the call.

“She did save his life, there’s no question about it,” he said.

Beyond some sore ribs, Vorpahl has a clean bill of health.

“It hasn't really sunk in, and it's starting to, how serious it was,” he said. “I wouldn't be here possibly if it wasn't for Rachel being there next to me."

Nelson is now advocating for people to get CPR certifications.

She says it’s relatively simple, inexpensive and could save a loved one’s life.

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