ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a life-or-death situation. An Albuquerque man on a quiet stretch of the Bosque Trail found himself suffering a heart attack, but he was in the right place at the right time.
“The first question is, does he have a pulse, and he did not,” said Ron Gray, an emergency critical care nurse practitioner at UNM Hospital.
Medics at UNM Hospital, Ron Gray and Brandi Thompson are among the team that was on the Bosque Trail last month and helped save a man’s life along with two other colleagues participating in their first-ever “Day of the Tread” Dia de Los Muertos bike race on October 29. It’s a fundraising event where cyclists dress up in Halloween costumes, but seven miles into the race, they saw a man on the side of the trail.
“Who looked like he had fallen, and he was kind of limp and laying there, and he didn’t look well,” recalled Brandi Thompson, a registered nurse on UNM’s Lifeguard Flight Team.
That man was Nicholas Juskiewicz. He was suffering a heart attack, but he was also surrounded by medical professionals. A UNM surgeon first stopped to help, followed by Gray and Thompson then two of their colleagues.
“There wasn’t a lot of thinking. It was just, ‘Okay, this person is sick, and he doesn’t have a pulse, so we’re starting CPR,'” stated Thompson.
All five medics took turns performing hands-on CPR for over 12 minutes.
“We would just switch out, and we would just offer like, ‘I’m up next. You’re up next,'” said Thompson.
On a remote stretch of the Bosque, they had to figure out how to get an ambulance to their location. Eventually, paramedics arrived, using a defibrillator to restart the man’s heart. Gray said they almost weren’t at the right place and time.
“We were actually running a little late for the race, so we actually started the race a little behind the start time, so we were actually trying to catch up with our group. Had we been on time, no, we would not have been there by any means,” commented Gray.
Gray and Thompson, along with the other medics, ended up completing the 25-mile race. They hope their story is a lesson for more people to learn CPR and be ready to help.
“Of course, you don’t expect that. You don’t go [out] with face paint and a costume expecting that you’re going to do CPR that day, but I felt like very honored that we could be there for him,” stated Thompson.
The man who had the heart attack has since been released from the hospital and he’s recovering at home.