Steamboat man survives heart attack because of life-saving efforts of Roaring Fork athletic trainer |

Steamboat man survives heart attack because of life-saving efforts of Roaring Fork athletic trainer

Joshua Carney
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A quick-thinking athletic trainer and an automated external defibrillator helped save a Steamboat man’s life at a middle school basketball tournament Saturday in Carbondale. (Stock photo)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs man attending his son’s middle school basketball tournament Saturday at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale is lucky Ryan Erickson was on duty as the tournament’s athletic trainer.

The Steamboat man had a heart attack inside the auxiliary gym at the high school when Erickson used CPR and the school’s automated external defibrillator to resuscitate him.

Erickson, who was in his office at the high school, was summoned by the tournament director to assist the man, who had passed out in the stands.

“When I reached him, he was unconscious and was experiencing agonal breathing, which is gasping for breath,” Erickson said. “That type of breathing happens to people going through cardiac arrest.”

Upon reaching the man and seeing him struggling to breathe, Erickson said he couldn’t find much of a pulse, prompting him to start CPR. While Erickson performed CPR on the man, a bystander called 911, and the tournament site manager, Bill Young, raced to get the defibrillator.

Support Local Journalism

Following the first cycle of chest compressions, Erickson and a couple of attendants at the tournament moved the man from the bleachers to the floor, where Erickson prepped the man for the AED.

Thanks to consistent training and certifications, Erickson said he knew exactly what to do.

“You always kind of wonder if this is ever going to happen to you when you’re on the job and always wonder how you’re going to react in that situation,” Erickson said. “You just get into autopilot, and your training takes over.”

Young, who raced to Erickson’s side with the AED, said it was remarkable to watch Erickson save the man’s life.

“He knew exactly what he was doing,” an emotional Young said. “He was familiar with the AED and had training on it. He went through the exact, perfect motions. He stepped right in and knew exactly what he was doing. It was just remarkable to watch.”

After the first set of shocks to the man’s chest, Erickson said, the man started to breath normally. At that time, Carbondale police and an ambulance had arrived at the school, taking over for Erickson.

The man was conscious while leaving the gym with paramedics before heading to the hospital. Later in the day, fellow Steamboat parents confirmed that the man had had a heart attack.

“I was just doing my job,” Erickson said.

This story is from

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User