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Vancouver doctor rescued during triathlon after going into cardiac arrest

Competing in the PDX Triathlon has become a tradition for Ryne Suppitt and his father, Bill. If not for the quick response of others, it may have ended last weekend.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A local doctor was rescued after going into cardiac arrest during the swimming portion of a triathlon. It happened in Blue Lake Park this past weekend in Fairview, where thousands of athletes participated in this year’s PDX Triathlon.

For the last three years, Ryne Suppitt and his father Bill have been competing in the triathlons. They both trained months for this past weekend’s event, the younger Suppitt said.

On Sunday, Bill Suppitt — who has worked as a doctor for nearly 30 years at the Vancouver Clinic — went into cardiac arrest as he was swimming in Blue Lake in the middle of the triathlon.

“He started his race around eight o’clock, I was a couple of minutes after him, so I was in the water when this all happened,” said Ryne.

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Ryne said it didn’t take long for people to help his father out of the water. Almost immediately, bystanders and other participants in the race were able to pull the 67-year-old out and began performing CPR on him.

“We’re just eternally grateful for everyone that was there — the EMTs, Why Racing ... and the protocols they had in place — mainly the bystanders, the civilians who just saw him and sprang into action,” said Ryne.

Since being admitted to the hospital on Sunday, his dad is still in the ICU and on a ventilator. He is opening his eyes on command, and he’s squeezing hands on command too.

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While Ryne knows it’ll be a while before they’re out competing in triathlons again, he is thankful for the people who saved his dad’s life. He’s also urging everyone to become certified in CPR because it can save someone’s life. Ryne said that his dad always told people the importance of being able to perform CPR — because you never know when and where you might need to help someone.

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