Man saved while running Keys half marathon reunites with rescuers

KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man recovering after suffering a medical issue while running the Key West Half Marathon turned to social media in order to track down the people who rushed to his aid.

Bill Amirault posted on Facebook the video message that he recorded from his hospital bed. In the clip, he described the frightening ordeal, as well as the bystanders who came to his rescue on Jan. 15.

Speaking with 7News, Amirault said he’d run several marathons in the past, but it had been a long time ago. “I’ve been in the Keys many times over the years. I’ve done five other marathons before,” he said. “It had been about four years since I’d done one, so this was the first one in a while, but I was looking forward to it.”

Becky, Amirault’s wife, ran the 5K with a friend and was waiting for him at the finish line when she heard screams for a medic. “I got this kind of sick feeling. I don’t know. I was about to go run around the corner,” she said. “I just kind of felt like, ‘Could that be Bill?'”

Her intuition was right. “As I rounded the corner, right before the finish line, I just started getting tunnel vision,” said Amirault. “It all happened very quick. I didn’t have any chest pain.”

But help was literally steps away. “There was a cardiac nurse. There was medical personnel that worked in cath labs and very specific heart functions,” said Amirault.

Among those who ran to Amirault’s side was Lisa Vos, a registered nurse accustomed to working with much younger patients. “CPR for me is usually done in a hospital on babies because I work in labor and delivery,” she said while speaking on the phone with 7News. “This is the first adult male patient I’ve had in probably 30 years.”

One of the paramedics in the ambulance called Becky as Amirault was transported to the Lower Keys Medical Center. He was later airlifted to Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Throughout the ordeal, Becky prayed. “‘You just gave him to me. Don’t take him away,'” she said as she held back tears. “We had just gotten married in September, but we’d known each other for 12 years.”

Doctors found an irregular heartbeat and decided to implant a defibrillator.

Still in the hospital, Amirault, who lived in South Florida for decades before moving to Colorado Springs, turned to Facebook to find his lifesavers. “There were at least one or two, maybe more bystanders that were performing CPR on me, which ultimately saved my life,” he said in the clip. “I later found out that I had ventricular arrhythmia, which caused, ultimately, my heart to stop.”

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Bill Amirault

More than 800,000 views later, Amirault found four of them: two from South Florida, one from Illinois and one from Maryland.

The cardiac nurse who worked on him sent a text reading in part, “This is such great news. I have been searching online hoping to hear of your progress. Best of wishes to you and your recovery!!!!!”

“Just the power of people sharing a positive message was incredible,” said Amirault.

The couple used the same word to describe what they’ve been through. “The fact that he is able to sit here and talk to us and be out of the hospital in less than a week is a miracle,” said Becky.

“It was a blessing. It was a miracle. It was the right people in the right place, at the right time,” said Amirault.

The Amiraults said they will both take classes to get certified in CPR, and they hope their story will inspire others to do the same.

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