L.A. Marathon Cardiac Arrest Survivor Reunited with Rescuers and Hospital Staff

Monday, April 21, 2014 |

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) personnel and members of the UCLA and USC medical staffs joined 2014 ASICS LA Marathon runner Jode Lebeda on Monday as he was reunited with firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses who cared for him after he collapsed during the race.

L.A. Fire Chief Speaks at April 21, 2014 Press Conference where a Marathon Cardiac Arrest Survivor was Reunited with Rescuers and Hospital Staff
LAFD Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone addresses the media
at an April 21, 2014 press conference, where a man who collapsed in cardiac
arrest during the 2014 ASICS Los Angeles Marathon was reunited with rescuers.
Jode was running the 2014 ASICS LA Marathon on March 9, when at Mile 20, he collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest. Marathon medical volunteers from Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), the official medical provider of the ASICS LA Marathon, quickly reached 28-year-old Jode and began CPR, while LAFD EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics stationed along the race course also arrived rapidly to provide Advanced Life Support measures. While being treated on the race course, Jode regained strong pulses and was transported by LAFD ambulance in critical condition to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.

He was admitted to the hospital’s Neurointensive Care Unit and over the next seven days, made a remarkable recovery. He has since returned to work and has resumed his normal daily activities.

"The sheer number of pieces that had to fall into place to enable me to survive is staggering to imagine," said Jode Lebeda. "Words cannot describe the gratitude I feel for the trained volunteers and LAFD members who reacted instantly to save my life. Additionally, the expert care I received from Dr. Vespa and the rest of the UCLA medical staff following the marathon has allowed me to be here physically, just as I was before the race." He added: "This experience has been one of those life-altering events that will forever change my perspective on all things. The importance of first-responders and human compassion in our society has never felt more real.”

LAFD Interim Chief James Featherstone commended the quick work of the medical personnel and the LAFD members assigned to the race that day, as well as the teamwork and coordination required to turn a potential tragedy into a joyful success.

"The amazing story of Jode’s sudden collapse and subsequent full recovery is not only a tribute to the strength of his spirit, but a testament to the effectiveness of the Chain of Survival in cases of sudden cardiac arrest," said Chief Featherstone. "It is always a pleasure to formally introduce an individual to the people who rescued him."

Dr. Paul Vespa, professor of neurology and neurosurgery and director of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s Neurointensive Care Unit, was the lead physician during Jode’s hospitalization. "When Jode remained in a coma, we suspected he was suffering from silent seizures, which are common after cardiac arrest, so we used brain monitoring to detect the seizures, and then treated him to protect his brain," said Dr. Vespa. "Our motto is 'To detect and protect,' and UCLA pioneered this type of brain monitoring, which is available only at specialized neurocritical care centers like ours."

Marathons are inherently complex events, with thousands of runners, spectators and volunteers lining the 26.2 mile course. The LAFD works closely with the ASICS LA Marathon organizers and allied public safety agencies to coordinate its medical coverage and response. In addition to providing life-saving treatment to Jode, the LAFD handled dozens of race-related incidents throughout the day.

Dr. Glenn Ault of Keck Medicine of USC is the ASICS LA Marathon Medical Director and was on hand to meet Jode and express his gratitude for a team effort to save him and assist all participants of the annual race.

"Keck Medicine of USC is proud to partner with the ASICS LA Marathon and the multiple jurisdictions providing medical care to ensure the health and safety of race participants,” said Dr. Ault. "Our medical volunteers, including physicians and nurses with expertise in emergency medicine, have assisted LA Marathon runners since 2012, and we’re glad we can be of help to them. In this case, the heroic efforts of many culminated in an incredible outcome for Mr. Lebeda, which we can all celebrate."

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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for therapeutic hypothermia treatment. Everyone should learn "Sidewalk CPR".

LAFD said...

Anonymous 5:33,

Right you are. Everyone should learn Sidewalk CPR - and it's easier than you think. Our friends at the American Heart Association provide some great tips on what you need to know:

Hands-Only CPR

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Frank Lima said...

Good thing LAFD hired EXTRA Firefighters and Paramedics just to staff the marathon that day, because the normal amount of LAFD personnel is dangerously low, and the outcome most likely would of been different. LAFD has been the most decimated department in the City of LA. Good thing LAFD has the best Firefighters and Paramedics in the world, they are the only ones holding this department together which is great peril now.

Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P said...

As a marathoner and a paramedic I am thrilled to read this story. Great work by the all of the health care providers that played a role in Mr. Jode's survival. Anyone can (and should) learn to perform chest compressions and use an AED. Thanks.

Joel Falter said...

It is a pity that those of us that were LA Marathon Volunteers at Medical Mile 20 weren't recognized for the role we played in saving his life.

LAFD said...

Mr. Falter,

Thanks for your note - and more importantly for your devotion of time and skill in protecting participants and spectators at the 2014 ASICS L.A. Marathon.

The LAFD reached out to known partners from that day, and remains appreciative to the several who were able to attend the weekday press conference that highlighted the Chain of Survival of which you and others were a primary and essential part.

For reasons unknown to our agency, some of the many responders and caregivers were unable to attend. There was however, strong and repeated mention of the medical volunteers, including the third sentence of the jointly approved press release:

"Marathon medical volunteers from Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), the official medical provider of the ASICS LA Marathon, quickly reached 28-year-old Jode and began CPR..."

Mr. Falter, it would have been most powerful to have you and many others at the April 21 press event, if for no other reason than to reunite with a grateful Mr. Lebeda, and to receive deep personal thanks from our Interim Fire Chief for a job superbly done.

While we'll continue to do everything in our power to prevent future medical emergencies at the Los Angeles Marathon, we know they will occur. Should there be a future incident where a public/press event is possible, we will more diligently pursue each of our many partner agencies to cull from within their ranks to assure as many of the key players are invited and in attendance for the reasons mentioned above.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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