Fennimore parents turn loss into life-saving mission

Fennimore parents turn loss into life-saving mission

FENNIMORE, Wis. - There is a new first-of-its-kind tool coming to first responders in the state that will help them potentially save more lives, and it’s all thanks to a 9-month-old baby named Camynn. 

Courtney and Matt Bruegmann waited 10 years to have a boy. After two beautiful girls, he was the final addition that made their family complete. 

“He was our first boy, and he was all boy,” Courtney said. “His sisters loved him, of course.”

“Even if you were having a bad day, he could just make you laugh and crack you up,” Matt said. “That's what he's here for. He changed everybody.” 

Always counting their blessings, this family never thought to count their minutes with Camynn until two years ago. Camynn was playing with his big sister when he swallowed a bouncy ball. Nearly two inches big, the Bruegmanns couldn’t get it out. First responders tried, too. They took him to the local hospital, who had him airlifted to Madison. Camynn was declared brain dead. 

“Some days it’s like it was yesterday and other times it feels like it happened years ago,” Courtney said. 

“The hardest part are the flashbacks… remembering what his face looked like when he was trying to get the ball out. I could tell that he was going. He wasn't getting oxygen. That's the hardest part.”

Nate Flynn runs the EMS division at the Fennimore Fire Department. He wasn’t there that night – but he’s spent a lot of time thinking about – what if he was? 
“The fact of the matter is there wasn't much we could’ve done,” Flynn said. “We have very few tools.”

Courtney and Matt realized that, too. They asked their doctor what could have helped in Camynn’s situation and came up with the LifeVac. It’s a simple tool that can help suction out something that might be stuck too deep down someone’s throat to be easily taken out.

The LifeVac is FDA-registered. You can buy it yourself on Amazon for $70. Still, not a single agency in the state of Wisconsin uses the device, according to the Department of Health Services. 

Flynn has largely headed up efforts to get LifeVac into the hands of Fennimore’s first responders, in part because the Bruegmanns had been busy counting time in weeks lately – 39 of them, to be exact. Courtney was pregnant. 

“We found out we're having a boy, so that has been difficult,” Courtney said. 

This time around, joy has been hard to find. Courtney’s due date and the 2-year anniversary of Camynn’s death are just days apart. 

“Camynn completed our family,” she said. “I guess I feel like he was my boy, so I can't have another boy as sweet as him.”

Time has passed since we first talked to Courtney and Matt. The anniversary of Camynn’s death has come and gone, and so did Courtney’s due date. Their baby boy was born without a heartbeat.

“You ask  lot of whys - why would this happen again?” Courtney said. “What did we ever do to deserve this? And of course, this time around, I blame more myself, because I was the one carrying him.”

“They’re together, hopefully, on the other side,” Matt said. “They’re here with us still.”

Maybe it’s with help from both their angels that the Bruegmanns finally got word of news they’d been waiting two years to hear: the day before this story was set to air, Fennimore EMS received approval to implement the LifeVac into their protocol. First responders are hoping to have the device stocked and staff trained by Dec. 1.

Two unimaginable losses and two years of wondering 'what if' have come to an end for these two parents. 

“You have to do something positive out of a tragedy,” Courtney said. “It’s what keeps us going – knowing that we could potentially save other people.”

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