Man suffers heart attack during 10K, saved by firefighter running alongside him

RICHMOND, VA (WRIC) — A Virginia 10K could have been tragic for one runner who had a heart attack and collapsed during the release.

Luckily for him, about 50 feet behind him was firefighter Matt Howell.

“I was close enough and I have medical training through my job I figured at least I could help,” Howell told 8News Reporter Tracey Smith.

Howell was running his first 10K on Saturday, hoping to get a qualifying time. But during his third mile, he saw a runner go down.

“When I arrived on scene he was unconscious, unresponsive, not breathing without a pulse,” explained Howell.

But Howell refuses to take all the credit.

“The thing that really saved his life was not the individual efforts of one person,” said Howell. “It was everybody’s combined effort.”

About ten other people joined in on the rescue efforts.

“There were a lot of people really willing to help and I think that is a testament to what Richmond is about that’s maybe not seen every day,” said Howell.

After meeting the man who he helped save, Howell says this entire experience has been humbling.

“Not only a part of my job is helping people but I feel like that’s who I am,” said Howell. “To be able to do that outside of work is a huge thing to me.”

He says he’s not used to all this attention, but that if one person see this story, and learns CPR because of it, then it makes it all worth it.

“If every single one of those people were CPR certified imagine the difference that everyone would have the opportunity to make just in Richmond alone.”

After the ambulance showed up on Saturday, Howell went on to finish the race, missing the one hour qualifying time by just two minutes. But, he says he doesn’t care that he missed his goal, and he will be definitely be running again next year.

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