A race for one high school athlete turned into a fight for life.
A 17-year-old Decorah cross country runner collapsed Thursday evening while running in the Rich Engel Cross Country Classic at Birdsall Park in Cedar Falls. A spectator at the event, Dr. Greg Hoekstra, administered CPR until Cedar Falls police officer Sam Shafer and reserve officer Bob Wright arrived on the scene. The officers had an automated external defibrillator and administered a shock to jump-start the teen’s heart.
He was taken to Sartori Memorial Hospital.
Sartori personnel called the on-scene response a “textbook save” and noted that CPR alone most likely would not have saved the teen’s life.
Adam Riley, activities director for Decorah High School, said the student is doing well but was still in Cedar Falls for testing as of Friday afternoon.
“We’re very appreciative of the efforts of the Cedar Falls Police Department and Sartori hospital,” Riley said Friday. “We very easily could have lost a student yesterday.”
Cedar Falls police have been carrying the defibrillators in each squad car for about eight years. Each officer is recertified to use the device each year.
“Frequently, we’re on the scene before ambulances and paramedics, so you have to do what you can,” said Police Chief Jeff Olson. “We’re just thrilled when we can do something like this to help.”