By Jodie Dello Stritto
Greg Woodman (center), with his wife Anita and the team of runners who raced to save his life. From left to right, Kyle Hrutkay, Aaron Taylor, Tabitha Bowser, Greg and Anita Woodman, Laura Overly, Mikaela Hess, Austin Boesch.
On Sunday, July 16, Greg Woodman—publisher of HappyValley Industry and owner of State College-based marketing and content creation company Affinity Connection—was running the Presque Isle Half Marathon in Erie, along with two of his sons, Joe and Nate.
At 65, Woodman is an experienced runner who meets up with a group of friends every Saturday and Sunday to run through State College and campus, Woodman has finished a marathon, eight half marathons, and countless 5Ks.
Woodman and his sons had traveled to Erie straight from Maryland following a weekend of services for Greg’s father who had passed away the previous Monday at age 92.
Complete strangers came together and saved my life, thanks to their compassion and expertise. This has opened my eyes to how important it is to be trained in CPR.
"Because of my dad and the last couple of weeks, I didn't train well and didn't eat well or sleep well, so I knew it was going to be a struggle to get through the 13.1 miles," Woodman told Erie News Now (see links to a news article and television interview here).
Near mile 4, he felt like he might collapse so he moved to the right side of the course. He did, in fact, collapse. He was in cardiac arrest.
“If this hadn’t happened when it happened, where it happened, I wouldn’t be here today, plain and simple,” Woodman said. Several nurses, two from Erie’s UPMC Hamot, happened to be running just behind him. They stopped and began CPR until the EMS team arrived with an AED and epinephrine.
“Complete strangers came together and saved my life, thanks to their compassion and expertise,” he said. “This has opened my eyes to how important it is to be trained in CPR.”
Doctors told Woodman his heart had stopped for six minutes.
"The chances of surviving a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital are only about 10%, especially for a 65-year-old," Woodman said. "I was blessed. It was a miracle that these heroic people swept in so quickly. The quality care preserved my brain capacity and kept me alive."
My primary doctor is at Penn State Health, my nutritionist is at Geisinger, and I have a great cardiologist and cardiac rehab support at Mount Nittany. It’s great having such quality of care within 15 minutes of my house.
On August 10, Inside Edition brought Woodman and the team of people who saved his life together for a reunion.
“It was just as special as you’d imagine—extremely emotional to be with these individuals who have given me a second chance,” he said. “I really want to use it to make them proud.”
Back to work and recovering, Woodman said he’s happy to report he’s benefiting from the expertise of the local medical community. “My primary doctor is at Penn State Health, my nutritionist is at Geisinger, and I have a great cardiologist and cardiac rehab support at Mount Nittany,” he said. “It’s great having such quality of care within 15 minutes of my house.”
Woodman says that through cardio rehab, he is already back to running. “The cardiac arrest was July 16, and with two new stents and unblocked arteries, I’m in full recovery,” he said.
Woodman said he’d also like to use this incident to share important information about heart health and CPR training. “What I have learned in the last 3 weeks has been quite enlightening. Ninety percent of people do NOT survive an out-of-home heart attack. It’s a worthwhile exercise to think about whether anyone in your business or family is trained in CPR and whether you have access to an AED machine, I wouldn’t be here.”