Local runner has heart attack at Longview Half Marathon, saved by other runners and police

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GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- A 64-year-old man who runs religiously had a major medical issue while running the Longview half marathon. He says he's alive today thanks to metro police officers, runners, and other medical personnel.

Running and marathons are a huge part of Mike Bland's life.

"I was doing, three to four times a week, on my own, a minimum of 6 miles, max up to 26 miles at times," Bland said.

Running in the Longview half marathon on Nov. 14th was supposed to be a breeze.

"I thought I was very well prepared for a half marathon. That would have been easy for me," Bland added.

But a family history of cardiovascular problems changed all that around mile 4.

"It's kind of like an out of body experience. I saw myself running, and I saw myself looking back at me saying, 'oh I think I'm going to fall,'" says Bland.

He had covered about three miles -- when he had a heart attack.

"When he went down, the other runners immediately started CPR, flagged down another officer who called out over the radio that CPR was in progress on a runner," Sgt. Ryan Sharp with Grandview police said.  Sharp was working the race that day and arrived at the scene to help Bland.

"He was not breathing, didn't have a pulse," Sharp said. "Some of our vehicles have AEDs in them, I applied the AED, a device to deliver a shock, and it did," Sharp said.

Bland said he remembers collapsing but after that -- just darkness.

"I had no idea anything had happened until I woke up on the ambulance, and it seemed like there was a million people around me telling that I had this happen," Bland said.

Captain Richard Rogers with Grandview police called for an ambulance while the others helped.

"It was just the right circumstances. Everything fell into place, from his location, the other runners, having the equipment available, the training. Everything just worked out perfectly for that result," Rogers said.

Bland started breathing again and got his pulse back. He said if it weren't for all the people that stopped to help he might not be here today.

"God's good to me," Bland said. "If I had been out on my own, like I do several times a week, I could have been just laying on a county road somewhere and God knows when they would have found me."

Bland said he's feeling great, and he's back to running 4 miles a day with the doctor's okay.

FOX 4 also spoke to Debbie Smith, Director of Women's Services at Fitzgibbon Hospital, who administered CPR to Bland before police arrived.

With both of us being nurses, our instincts kicked in and we jumped in the ditch to check on him.  He was completely unconscious, had no pulse, having agonal breathing and we knew he was in cardiac arrest.  I immediately started CPR," Smith recounted in a statement.

Bystanders began shouting at Smith to stop because he was breathing, but Smith knew that he still had no pulse.

"I just keyed into Diane’s voice, who was monitoring his pulse.  I continued CPR and Diane analyzed the pulse for me, until some bystanders were able to flag down the police," Smith said. "Once the police arrived with an AED, and had the pads in place, we stepped back and let them take over."

After realizing what had happened, Smith said she and her fellow nurse tried to gain their composure and continued on with the half marathon.

"There was nothing more I could do," Smith said. "I knew he had a chance because he had both CPR and defibrillation very quickly.   I am very thankful for my years of training in CPR and that I was able to help save a life."