‘My training kicked in’: Strangers perform CPR on marathoner

Updated: Feb 1, 2019


Two strangers, Dr. Erika Persson and Levi Ross, were in different cheer sections at the Edmonton Marathon when they both noticed a man face down on the curb and came to his rescue.

“I was in the right place, at the right time and my training kicked in. I thought, ‘I got to go (sic) help this guy.’ I came over and I said, ‘I’m a sports doctor. I know how to do CPR, how can we help?’” Dr. Persson said.

She said she didn’t feel a pulse on the man and began performing CPR. Moments later, Ross tapped her shoulder, offering to help do chest compressions.

Another bystander held onto the man’s neck in case he was injured while the pair took turns doing CPR. Dr. Persson said they worked “as a team” until an EMS crew arrived.

“This is one of those things that you train for, but you hope never happens. But you’re always ready for it,” Ross said, who’s studying dentistry in New York.

Once paramedics took over, Dr. Persson and Ross went their separate ways, both left wondering if the man was going to live.

Radio station helps connect them

Nearly two weeks after the incident, the man’s niece, Jennifer, called into the morning show on Hot 107 FM to share the story.

She said her 57-year-old uncle had run 17 kilometre in the half-marathon when he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. He was just four kilometres from the finish line.

“My uncle and his wife would really like to thank them but we have no clue who that was,” she told the radio hosts.

“We’ll put that into the universe and see if we can find an answer for you,” Ryder told the caller.

Ryder said the station received several text messages which helped identify the Good Samaritans.

“It was cool to see the listeners come together – kind of as a unit. They would give little clues that would turn into the next clue,” he said. “We managed to put it together and find the two people.”

Dr. Persson and Ross said they were glad to receive an update on the man’s condition.

“I’m so happy and thankful that he survived because that’s what I was wondering. I never knew and didn’t know how to get ahold of him or ahold of anybody to find out. So it’s serendipity that they got ahold of me,” Dr. Persson said.

Ross spoke with the runner’s daughter, who expressed how grateful she was for his help.

“To be able to get this kind of follow-up and hear he’s doing better, it was fantastic to hear that finally,” he said.

He said he’s looking forward to speaking to the man once he’s recovered.

The marathoner underwent triple bypass surgery at the University of Alberta on Thursday.

“I’m just happy he’s alive, that makes my heart happy because we helped him,” Dr. Persson said.

With files from Nahreman Issa

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