DES MOINES, Iowa -- A near-death experience led an Iowa man to his dream job.
Clint Bennethum has a lot to be thankful for these days. "I've done a lot of jobs in my life, but this is by far is the best," said Bennethum. What led him to landing his dream job as a paramedic with West Des Moines Emergency Services nearly cost him his life, but he is thankful for that, too. "I am grateful for it leading me down this line of work."
While turkey hunting in Bevington, Iowa, in 2009, Bennethum began notice something was wrong. "A huge pressure right in the center of my chest and at that point it wasn't going away. Something is going on here and I needed help," explained Bennethum. He called 911 and began to drive where he met a Warren County deputy and a Norwalk ambulance. "I was sweating really bad and I couldn't catch my breath," Bennethum said.
He was having a heart attack.
"Coming into the parking lot is when my heart stopped," said Bennethum. First responders took him to Iowa Methodist, where his situation worsened and his heart stopped. "They shocked my three times in the emergency room before they got my heart going again. I had 100 percent blockage of my LAD artery in my heart," said Bennethum.
The near-death experience changed Bennethum's outlook on life and his purpose. He said, "The whole thing started to give back to the community that helped me."
Seven years ago, Bennethum obtained an EMT certification and began volunteering with local communities . "Over the years I've seen how the next level is, so I went and got an advanced EMT, and during that I did ride time with West Des Moines," said Bennethum.
Last Monday, Jan. 14, he was hired as a full-time paramedic with the City of West Des Moines. "To be offered the job and accept it, finally the goal was achieved," Bennethum said.
While it was a weight on his chest that brought Bennethum to Iowa Methodist during his heart attack, fulfilling the goal nearly a decade later to become a full-time paramedic lifted a new weight that led him to now saving patients at the same hospital that saved him.
"The other hospitals in the area, we go to all of them and drop patients off. Everybody is great but I have a little connection to this one," said Bennethum.
It's a connection that not only saved his heart but fueled it with a passion. "It's a pretty good feeling waking up and wanting to go to work versus oh it's Monday and I have to go to work again. It doesn't really seem like work," said Bennethum.
Bennethum also volunteers his time with The City of Slater First Responders.