In the early miles of the Vermont
City Marathon, runners follow an out-and-back spur on a section of highway
that crosses the undeveloped floodplain of the Winooski River. With
no families or friends lining the course, it has all the makings of
a lonely four-mile stretch. Runners are largely on their own to generate
support for themselves and one another, which they do with frequent
shouts of encouragement throughout the pack.
At the 2003 race on May 25, that sense of solidarity took on a new level
of meaning when David Hershberg 55 fell to the ground near mile
4 in a state of cardiac arrest.
Amy Chekos, a fourth-year UVM medical student, was heading back into
town about seven miles into her own race, cruising at a pace that would
give her a good chance at achieving her longtime goal of running sub-three
hours. But instead of the standard Good job! from the runners
coming toward her, she heard cries of Theres a man down!
We need a doctor!
There would be other days to run fast. Chekos stopped as did many others
in a growing support team remarkable for its emergency medical expertise
and a coincidental network of UVM connections. Chekos was joined by
Dr. Dan Busse 91 MD 00; Dr. Chris Viscomi, an anesthesiologist
and professor in the College of Medicine; and a trio of UVM Rescue members
all running the race Jennifer Demaroney, Joanne Lalime, and Zach
Keller. Also key to the rescue was Jeff Maher, a police detective from
New Hampshire, who was the first on the scene to start CPR.
Hershberg could scarcely have found better help if hed fallen
at the entrance to the Emergency Room, but his condition was critical
as his heart stopped once on the course and once on the way to the hospital.
The impromptu medical team worked together to keep him alive until the
ambulance crew arrived. Chekos recalls the strange moment of transition
as they handed over care of Hershberg. Busse turned to her and said,
Being runners, they started running. Chekos says it was a soul searching
journey to the finish, filled with thoughts of her father, her reasons
for being a doctor, and, of course, Hershbergs life in the balance.
Her gut told her that he would make it because of the strong spirit
so evident as he fought to hang on.
She was right. Two months after the race, sitting with his wife Judy
Silon Hershberg 56 in the living room of their Burlington home,
David Hershberg is a grateful man who calls his survival a miracle.
Hes thankful to be here; thankful for his fellow runners, family,
community; thankful for Fletcher-Allen Hospital staff, his cardiologist
Dr. Robert Lobel 91, and the team at UVMs Cardiac Rehabilitation
where, in July, he was already up to 40 minutes walking/12 minutes running.
Being in excellent shape helped Hershberg survive and he intends to
stay that way.
Judy offers that her husband is already asking for longer workouts,
thinking the cardiac folks could loosen the reins a bit. With the wisdom
and patience that comes from 47 years of marriage she smiles and says,
Its nice to know that weve got him back.