PORTLAND, Ore. — It was the right place at the right time. A man running in the Portland Marathon found himself in a scary, life-threatening situation. Fortunately for him, a nurse running in the opposite direction jumped in to help. On Sunday, he got to meet her for the first time and thank her in person for saving his life.
Dave Brenner has run more than 130 marathons. But as he waited for his turn to run in this year's Portland Marathon, he had no idea what would happen around mile 13.
“Felt really good and felt a little light headed, and then it's like,' Oh, this isn't normal.’ I mean I've never passed out before,” Brenner said.
He grabbed a nearby railing, then went down. That's the last thing he remembers until he woke up in an ambulance.
“I was like, 'What happened?' They go, ‘Well you died,' " he said.
His heart had stopped beating due to cardiac arrest. While Brenner didn't remember what happened, Kirstyn Rossman, who was running her first marathon, remembers everything.
“I saw him collapse,” she said.
That's when she ran over to him to see if he was OK.
“I ran over and I got down on the ground with him and I could tell he was in trouble,” Rossman said.
She told people nearby to call 911. But soon after, Brenner stopped breathing. Rossman immediately started CPR. She's a nurse at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center.
“I don't care how well you're trained, that is scary. And I walked away thinking he wasn't going to make it,” she said.
But he did make it, and today the two met for the first time. Brenner knew exactly what he was going to tell her.
“Thank you. I mean, she saved my life. That's all there is to it,” Brenner said.
Rossman insists the credit goes to everyone who worked together to save Brenner's life.
“There are so many people along the way that all contributed to saving his life. So I was the first one in that chain,” Rossman said.
“There was a whole group of people there with me. There was a woman holding his head so his head wouldn’t hit the ground, there was a gentleman holding his legs, there was a woman checking his pulse, there was a gentleman who was like a cheerleader … he kept saying, 'Come on Dave, you can do this Dave,' ” she said.
After paramedics arrived and took over, Rossman decided she needed to continue on.
“I thought about Dave and I thought he didn't get to finish, and so I'm gonna try and finish because he couldn't. That's what got me through the next 11 miles,” she said.
Now both Rossman and Brenner have a message they want to share.
“Get trained on CPR,” Brenner said.
“Take 30 minutes, take an hour out of your day one time to learn something that could make a life or death difference for somebody,” Rossman said.
Brenner said he's had heart issues before, but they were always accompanied by some sort of chest pain. This time there was no warning. He now has a pacemaker and won't be running another marathon anytime soon. Neither will Rossman. She said that was enough excitement for one lifetime.