Dana Greene - Heroic efforts a sign of the times

Dana Greene - Heroic efforts a sign of the times

Danny Berger's life was saved by a quick-thinking trainer and lessons learned from the past.
Danny Berger was born two months after Hank Gathers died. 

But it is not a stretch to say that Gathers' death indirectly helped save Berger's life.

On March 4, 1990, the former Loyola Marymount University basketball star collapsed on the court during a game and died. The university knew about Gather's abnormal heart condition, and had just recently purchased a defibrillator in case of an emergency.

However, the defibrillator was not courtside at the game, and only when Gathers was ushered outside on a stretcher was the device used. By then, it was too late.

Heart doctors later said that if the defibrillator was used within five minutes of Gathers' collapse, his life could have been saved. 

22 years later, Utah State was better prepared. This wasn't even at a game, where emergency equipment is now always immediately available. 

This was at practice, and USU trainer Mike Williams knew exactly what to do. He performed CPR, then used an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to shock him back to life.

"Thank God for our trainer and the job he did in following protocol,'' athletic director Scott Barnes said. "He not only applied CPR but he knew to use the defibrillator within the first few minutes, and that was key. That was a critical move.'' 

Thanks to more knowledge about athletes' hearts and advanced technology, Danny Berger did not suffer the same fate as Hank Gathers. Who knows what would have happened if not for the heroic efforts of Mike Williams and the Utah State medical staff?

What is truly tragic about Gathers' death is the fact that the university knew Gathers had heart problems and still allowed him to play.

As far as we know, nobody suspected Berger was at risk for something like this to happen. Who would expect a 22-year-old college athlete in the prime of his life to be susceptible to a such a collapse?

Yet, partly because every university is now fully aware of the medical precautions that need to be taken if something tragic happens at a game or at practice, Danny Berger is still alive.

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