Jim Ott's Blog

This blog is a collection of columns I've written for Bay Area News Group newspapers serving the East San Francisco Bay region.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Two friends save the life of their cycling buddy

This news item was published in the Tri-Valley Times on March 6, 2014

Around 8:30 in the morning last month, on February 17, just after cycling up a long hill through Golden Eagle Estates that leads to a Pleasanton ridge trailhead, Karl Wenzler, 46, collapsed from cardiac arrest in front of his friends, Brian Martinez and Joe Narciso. 
The three friends regularly ride their mountain bikes together, and on this day they planned to continue their ride up a steep, unpaved trail that leads to the top of the ridge overlooking the valley. 

Martinez, an Alameda County Sheriff, and Narciso, an executive with Safeway, initially thought Wenzler had simply tripped after the three took a short break in the parking lot. When he didn't move, they rushed to assist Wenzler, calling 911 for paramedics and to administer CPR since Wenzler was unconscious, turning blue, and not breathing. 

Assisted over the phone by an emergency medical dispatcher from the Alameda County Regional Emergency Communications Center, Martinez and Narciso worked together to repeatedly pump Wenzler’s chest several hundred times, followed each time by mouth-to-mouth breaths. They did this for nearly 30 minutes. 

The physical effort to keep their friend alive was exhausting, and the dispatcher offered both specific instructions and repeated encouragement. 

“I know it’s tiring, but you guys are doing a really good job,” said the female dispatcher. "Keep it up. The paramedics are on their way."

Eventually, a hiker, Michelle Stearns, also assisted with CPR until the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department arrived to transport Wenzler to ValleyCare Hospital. 

Thanks to quick thinking and the tireless work of Narciso and Martinez, Wenzler, who grew up in Pleasanton and lives in Brentwood, received sufficient emergency care from the friends to sustain his life and oxygen to his brain. He recently spoke by phone from his hospital room with the two friends, thanking them for saving his life. 

Wenzler is expected to make a full recovery. 
                                          Joe, Brian, and Karl

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