Nurses running race save life of man whose heart stops during event

Runners stream over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at the start of the 2004 New York City Marathon.

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Runners stream over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at the start of the 2004 New York City Marathon.

A Washington state runner owes his life to two nurses who stopped to help him after his heart stopped during a race.

Jerry Stafford, 59, was nearly halfway through the annual Bloomsday 12 K race Sunday in Spokane when he collapsed. Stafford's daughter, Melissa Pachman, spoke to KHQ Local News about her father's brush with death.

"He got to the 3.5-mile mark and he says he started to get lightheaded and dizzy," Pachman told the news station. "He says he doesn't remember anything except waking up to people surrounding him, and that was after the CPR was done and the AED was done to him to shock his heart."

The news station reported that two nurses running the race happened to run by moments after Stafford collapsed. They gave him CPR until medics arrived and took over.

Stafford, who was flown to a hospital, is scheduled for heart surgery Tuesday afternoon.

"We want to thank this person, hug them, show our appreciation," Pachman said of her father's rescuers. "They just don't realize, the life they saved, the man they saved is loved by so many."

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The nurses, who spoke to KHQ off-camera, said their actions were just part of their jobs, the station reported.

Commenters on the news story praised the nurses, who one man identified as ICU nurses, and wished Stafford well.

"Glad you're doing better," wrote one woman who was at the race Sunday. "We saw you take off via Life Flight! Best wishes for your upcoming surgery!"

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