Steamboat Springs While announcing last weekend's Steamboat Marathon, Rob Powers watched as a runner collapsed about 100 yards from the finish line.
"I was watching him come in like everybody else, and his legs just went to rubber," Powers said. "He looked like Joe Frazier had just clocked him in the head. Just a total knockout fall."
As soon as the runner collapsed, Powers called for medical assistance as volunteers rushed to the man's side.
The man, a South Dakota resident competing in the masters division of the 10K race, recovered after treatment at Yampa Valley Medical Center and in Loveland. His wife is Amy Yanni, a public defender for Pennington County courts in South Dakota, but neither she nor her husband could be contacted this week. While the runner remains unidentified, his collapse set in motion a chain of events that will forge his memory in the minds of local paramedics.
Chuck Cerasoli, a paramedic with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, was one of the first responders on the scene. Stationed at the finish line, he reacted to calls for help from spectators who saw the runner fall.
"Being so early in the day, the initial thought was that someone fell and skinned their knee or hurt themselves," he said.
As Cerasoli and partner Joe Oakland ran down the street toward the man, they saw the incident was more serious than expected.
"We quickly realized he was not breathing and did not have a pulse. He was in cardiac arrest," Cerasoli said.
Race volunteers began using CPR while Oakland drove the ambulance to the man.
"As soon as the ambulance showed up, we pulled out our monitor," Cerasoli said. "He was in a textbook (heart) rhythm for shocking."
Matter of moments
Within two minutes and after one shock from heart-resuscitating defibrillators, the man was breathing and had regained his pulse. Within 10 minutes from when he fell, the runner was in an ambulance on the way to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
"It was obviously the best-case scenario you could ever hope for," Cerasoli said. "Being in an ambulance, we're typically not that close and can't get there as fast. Being that close with the defibrillator and with the experienced personnel who were there, we were able to catch it.
"If he had been at the edge of town, a little further out, and it had taken us even five to 10 minutes to get to him, it could have been a very different ending."
The runner was treated at YVMC before seeking treatment in Loveland, said Kara Givnish, special events and sponsorship director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
Chriss Parks, organizer of the medical providers for the races, also was on the scene.
"He was in deep trouble. He was not in great shape when I last saw him, but he seemed to be coming around," Parks said, adding that the man was alert and talking at the hospital within half an hour.
Race Director Paul Sachs said Yanni, the man's wife, was running the full marathon and was located on the course. Race officials briefed Yanni on her husband's condition soon after he was taken to the hospital. She chose to finish the race and completed the course in less than four hours.
"I figured if I was out there running and my spouse had a heart attack, I would want to know about it," Sachs said. "Someone expected she would want to come to the hospital, but she finished the race. Pretty amazing, but she had a good time."