Doctor running Bloomsday helps save man's life



Posted on May 5, 2014 at 11:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 7 at 10:05 AM

SPOKANE, Wash.--A handful of Bloomsday runners were just beginning their recovery on Monday after some health scares during the race.

Spokane firefighters and EMTs responded to more than a dozen incidents including a stroke and a cardiac arrest.

Fire Department leaders said they plan for serious health problems to happen during the race. They said the problems happen every year at Bloomsday. Their preparations paired with quick-thinking witnesses helped save one man’s life.

“I could see a person laying in the street,” said Todd Gottschalk.

Gottschalk is an internal medicine doctor at Rockwood Clinic. He happened to be walking by when a stranger in front of him went into cardiac arrest at Bloomsday.

“When I got up there, I could see the man was looking like he was having a seizure. He was shaking. There was foaming at the mouth,” said Gottschalk.

Gottschalk and several others immediately began CPR on the man while a medical volunteer ran to the next block to get paramedics.

“When paramedics first arrived, he was clinically dead. There was a life-threatening arrhythmia, he was not breathing, and he was pulse less,” said Brian Schaeffer with the Spokane Fire Department.

Emergency responders were stationed every few blocks along the Bloomsday course. There were paramedic teams, fire trucks, mobile ambulances and medical evacuation helicopters along the route. There were 75 extra personnel ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

Each team had a defibrillator. That is what saved one man’s life.

“They gave him a shock, and just like in the movies, his body jumped. And shortly thereafter, they said they had a pulse,” said Gottschalk.

“It was all successful. So successful, that he was alive and his eyes were open when they were putting him in the back of the ambulance. So, the system worked exactly like it was supposed to,” said Schaeffer.

Gottschalk said it ended as quickly as it began.

“I was like, well, ‘I might as well just continue on with the race.’ But it was kind of a surreal thing for the last mile. There's bands playing, and people are very happy to be finishing. And it was just kind of somber to know someone was fighting for their life just up the road,” said Gottschalk.

The man was rushed to the hospital and was doing better on Monday. He had extensive open-heart treatment to clear five clogged arteries. He was expected be okay.