Boston EMS credits bystanders in saving runner’s life at Franklin Park race

Boston Emergency Medical Services has a message to the bystanders who offered life-sustaining care to a man who collapsed during a Thanksgiving Day morning road race: Thank you.

Those good Samaritans performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a man in cardiac arrest, buying him precious time until first responders could arrive, said Susan Schiller, deputy superintendent of Boston EMS.

“We would love to reach out and thank them and give them the credit they’re due,” she said.


Shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday, a male runner had a cardiac arrest and collapsed shortly before 10 a.m. at the annual Franklin Park Turkey Trot 5K road race, Schiller said.

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Boston EMS crews were just a half-mile away at the race’s finish line and were able to respond immediately, she said.

“It was a really a great outcome for the patient,” Schiller said.

When crews arrived, three or four bystanders were performing CPR, which she credited with helping to keep the man alive until EMS could use an automatic external defibrillator to restore his heartbeat, she said.

Schiller said the man was conscious during the ambulance ride to a local hospital; she declined to identify him. She did not have his condition Friday.


She said bystanders were able to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest and knew how to respond with CPR, which helped keep blood circulating to the patient’s brain. Boston EMS offers training in CPR and in the operation of the kind of defibrillator used Thursday.

“The goal for the public is to keep the body viable until EMS arrival,” she said. “We are extending the window the patient can survive.”

Schiller said any amount of CPR can help buy a patient precious time before the arrival of rescue crews.

“Just doing CPR is good enough. We will get the patient fast enough,” she said.

The road race helps fund the Franklin Park Coalition’s seasonal programs and concerts, according to the coalition’s website.


On social media, users praised bystanders and Boston EMS, including the coalition.

“We are so grateful for this good news Boston EMS! Thanksgiving indeed — to all who assisted and the runner and family,” race organizers wrote on Twitter Thursday.

One woman on Twitter described watching the fast response by rescuers.

“We were behind him on the course and we’re so impressed to see all the runners stop, assess, call 911 and start CPR. We have been thinking about him and his family all day,” she wrote in response to a Boston EMS post.

John Hilliard can be reached at