“I was dead for 8 minutes.”

Attorney Rand Mintzer, 57, has been an avid runner for more than half of his life. The seed of running was planted while he was a college student, considered morbidly obese at the time. The seed grew into passion, and running became his go-to exercise and stress reliever. Each week he ran at least 25 miles.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, Mintzer set out to compete in his 25th full marathon and his 11th Houston Marathon. One foot in front of the other, he trekked along the race course until suddenly something felt different.

“I wasn’t feeling great and was struggling to keep pace, had terrible heart burn, was burning up and even went to the sideline to throw up,” said Mintzer. “I returned to the course, but I felt lightheaded and my vision became blurry.”

He continued running for a short distance before falling to the ground at mile 15 in full cardiac arrest.

In the vicinity where he collapsed stood six spectators who were trained in CPR. They all ran to his side and went into full action performing the lifesaving technique. “My six angels all came from different backgrounds, but were all trained in CPR,” said Mintzer. “They were a computer company owner, a delivery room nurse, a thoracic surgeon, a married couple that works at a nearby hospital and a fireman.” Mile 15 was also near an assisted-living facility that had a defibrillator.

“I was dead for eight minutes,” Mintzer added. “Without the quick action of those around me, I would not be here.”

When the paramedics arrived, they transported him to Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Southwest, where Dr. Peter Chang placed a stent into one of his arteries that showed signs of severe blockage.

Today, Mintzer is on a mission to encourage all of his colleagues, families and friends to learn CPR.

“Every person who gets trained in CPR increases the potential of saving more lives and, according to the American Heart Association, can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival,” said Rebecca Myers, Education Resource Specialist III at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. “In Rand’s situation, all of the individuals who came to his assistance were from different professions, including non-medical. This speaks to the important role any one of us can play in saving a life.”

With the help of The Center for Nursing Excellence at Memorial Hermann Southwest, Mintzer and dozens of colleagues recently hosted a CPR training course at the Harris County Congress Plaza for fellow attorneys and court personnel. “By assisting in organizing the CPR class and actually taking it, I felt I was honoring those who saved my life,” said Mintzer.

“If you haven’t had a chance to go to a class, remember that Hands-Only CPR has two steps. When you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 911. Then, push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives,” Myers added.

Mintzer is back to exercising, easing his way to running with slower cardio. Although it may take some time before he hits the pavement, he is now making strides to encourage others to learn CPR. “I will keep working to make sure that everyone who crosses my path knows CPR, so perhaps that percentage of survival will increase and someone else gets to go home to their loved ones,” he said.

If you witness someone going into cardiac arrest here are three important steps to remember:

Memorial Hermann offers infant CPR classes at select campuses. For more information, click here.

Learn more about becoming certified in CPR.

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Tashika Varma