OMAHA, Neb. — Most drivers get a sinking feeling when their cars clunk into crater-like potholes.

But one pothole did a passenger a favor when the ambulance he was in struck it, according to first responders.

Members of the Gretna Volunteer Fire Department on Monday took a 59-year-old man suffering chest pain to the hospital, a Sarpy County 911 dispatcher said.

The patient also had an abnormally high heart rate. While en route to Lakeside Hospital, the ambulance hit a pothole. The jolt returned the patient's heart rate to normal, said Gretna Fire Chief Rod Buethe.

A tweet describing the dispatch report got a lot of attention on social media and had people wondering: Is that even possible? 

CHI Health emergency physician Dr. Peter Daher says yes. Although he had never heard of a pothole doing the trick.

"That's a new one for the books, I guess," he said.

Daher, who wasn't involved in the pothole case, said the patient may have had supraventricular tachycardia. It's a rapid heart rate that can be caused by a faulty electrical system in the heart, medication, stimulants, excessive caffeine and thyroid disease.

Daher said sometimes being startled or jolted will revert those patients' heart rates to normal.

Some patients have found that things like bearing down, coughing, gagging or sticking their head in ice cold water will help, Daher said.

He has seen a patient drop back to a normal heart rate after being stuck with a needle in the emergency room. Things like a needle stick, cough or gag can cause a reaction that makes the heart slow down and patients may feel faint, Daher said.

"Just the scare of hitting a pothole probably could have done it, too," Daher said. "I wouldn't doubt that was possible."

But patients should seek medical attention. Doctors and specialists can use medication to treat the symptoms. 

A CHI spokeswoman was not able to say if the patient had been discharged from the hospital.

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