… Danielle Bajus was running her first Great Race 10k.
She was near the back of the pack. Just after the two-mile mark, she saw a crowd form on Fifth Avenue near Craig Street.
Panicked runners surrounded a man, face down on the concrete. They waved at a police officer and shouted, “Man down!”
A retired doctor from Punxsutawney who was watching the race ran onto the course to check for a pulse.
Bajus, an acute care nurse practitioner at UPMC Presbyterian, looked at the runner’s face and thought: This guy is in trouble.
“Turn him over, turn him over!” she yelled. Racers did as instructed.
“Elevate his head!” she yelled, and again they obeyed.
Bajus dropped to her knees and began chest compressions.
(Bruce) Cornrich fell face first.
He scraped his knees and hands. He chipped a front tooth. Blood covered his face.
He was in full cardiac arrest, and only 10 percent of people who go into cardiac arrest survive.
Cornrich lived because everything fell into place perfectly:
Bajus and two other paramedics — Jennifer McDermott-Grubb and John Dombrowski — were there to immediately perform CPR; EMS crew chief Mark Bonasso arrived quickly and shocked him back to life with a defibrillator; ambulance paramedics maintained a pulse until doctors took over.
And it all happened in the shadows of a hospital that excels in heart care.
“The whole system worked for him,” said Dr. Jon Rittenberger, associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Cornrich’s post-cardiac arrest physician at UPMC Presbyterian.
Cornrich is scheduled for open heart surgery on Tuesday.
Until then, he is on the fourth floor at Presby — down the hall from where Bajus works.
“What can I say to someone who saved my life?” he told Bajus when they met Friday. “You’ll always be a part of my life.”
Cornrich is certified in CPR. He’s never had to use it, and he’s always wondered how he’d react if he did.
“Thank God she didn’t panic,” he said.
He added: “It’s good to be alive.”
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