New screening program begins in hopes to prevent heart attacks in West Fargo officers and firefighters

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - It’s a busy morning as Lieutenant Anderson suits up and hits the treadmill.

But it’s not some part of police training, or his morning routine, it’s part of a new enhanced cardiovascular screening program put on by Essentia Health and the West Fargo police and fire departments.

They began implementing the program after a rough scare and an even tougher loss. One that left shockwaves in the community, the force and a family.

Amber Gustafson, who lost her husband, Lt. Adam Gustafson, to a heart attack last May, said, “I think that it’s important and necessary that West Fargo has decided to try to eliminate one thing like a cardiac event as a reason why one of their officers won’t come home at night. I think Adam would be really proud too to know that his fellow officers are being well-cared for”

Lieutenant Jason Anderson, a West Fargo PD veteran, said, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and that was probably the worst moment of my career, losing Lieutenant Gustafson. A moment like that’s heartbreaking and it doesn’t subside easily and it never goes away. So to not have to feel like that again in the short career that I have left, I would love to have that happen. This is a great moment for the West Fargo Police Department, the city of West Fargo, the community.”

It’s a welcome feeling of comfort, as first responders and those who are waiting at home for them, have one less danger to surprise them, thanks to the support from the people and organizations in the community.

“This is amazing. I think it’s great the partnership between our city and Essentia. It’s a blessing for us and it’s humbling at the same time,” said Anderson

Amber Gustafson went on to say, “you can’t really describe it, because they show up again and again and make sure that my kids and I remember how much they loved having Adam here, and Adam loved being here too. They really just use every chance to show us that we’re not alone, and that they haven’t forgotten him and keep his memory alive.”