The 128th Boston Marathon is next week and even if you aren’t training to run the race, there is certainly training to be done.

On the morning of October 11th, 2021, Meghan Roth was gearing up to run the Boston Marathon while Olivia Hough was gearing up for her next shift as a nurse at Tufts Medical Center. Little did they know that over the next 24 hours, they would meet and become best friends…but under unique circumstances.

Roth, 10 months postpartum and in the best shape of her life, collapsed suddenly during mile 8. She was in cardiac arrest and was unresponsive.

While some nearby thought she had just twisted her ankle or something minor, there were a few others who immediately recognized what was going on the second she hit the pavement.

One woman saw Roth collapse from the window of her house and rushed outside with her son to begin administering CPR. She happened to be a cardiac nurse. A few runners had also stopped their races to help, one being a paramedic who happened to recognize Roth from meeting the day prior at a shakeout run. As Hough said, it was a blessing that they were there at that moment.

Roth was shocked with an AED (automated external defibrillator) a few times before the ambulance was able to make its way to her through the crowds of people on the course. When she came to, she thought she had just passed out and was begging for them to take her back and let her finish the race. “Don’t worry, I’m fine! I can totally finish it!” she said.

She soon learned that she was anything but fine and was headed to the hospital. She had no memory of what had happened to her and would fill in the blanks from the countless social media messages and texts she received.

The next day, she was transferred to the cardiac unit at Tufts Medical Center.

Hough was the nurse on duty and was in the process of transitioning from the cardiac unit to the ICU when she was told that there was a patient who just arrived that she should attend to.

Just like with any other patient, Hough was prepared to be there for Roth and get to know her on a personal level outside of her diagnosis, to make her feel less vulnerable and scared. What she wasn’t prepared for, was how her own life would change.

Once Roth was discharged and went back home to Minnesota, the two were inseparable and spoke every day. They wanted to make sure that people were prepared for this kind of situation on both ends – that it could happen to you no matter how seemingly healthy you are, but that it could also happen to someone around you and you should know what steps to take.

“Liv has been such a blessing and is such a big part of my life now,” Roth said. “There is so much good that has come from such a terrible situation at the time. Now, we are just focusing on the positive and what we can do going forward.”

They started a non-profit called Run With Me, Be Life Saving. Their mission is based around providing Bystander CPR awareness with the hope that the roughly 350,000 cases of cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting end just like Roth’s did.

“When you have people with proper knowledge and proper training, you are more likely to survive a circumstance like that,” Hough said. “Anyone can cardiac arrest at any moment, but it’s really the moment and the bystanders that will help you survive.”

Roth and Hough will be at this year’s Boston Marathon Expo before race day where they will be teaching people the basics of Bystander CPR with the hopes of educating as many as possible and spreading awareness.

Even though those folks won’t technically be CPR certified, at the very least they will have the basics down so they can help someone if necessary.

And if you don’t know CPR but witness someone experiencing a heart attack or cardiac arrest, here’s what you can do:

  • Assess the scene and make sure it is safe

  • Tell someone to call 911 while you start pushing on the person’s chest as best as you can to get the blood and oxygen flowing

  • For an adult victim, your compression should be 2 inches deep into the diaphragm

  • Remember that your technique does not have to be perfect

This past year, Roth came back to Boston and was finally able to meet the bystanders who saved her life. “It was so emotional. To physically be able to see them, not just write letters…to know that without them I wouldn’t still be here…” Roth said.

Because of them, Roth has been able to watch her son Jaxon grow up.

She has also been able to get back to running.

As a Falmouth native, the Falmouth Road Race has always been a huge part of Hough’s life. From volunteering it to running it herself, she has had great memories. But none topped last year, when she watched with tears in her eyes as Roth crossed the finish line.

“It’s crazy how quick your life can be taken from you,” Roth said. “It shows that when people come together and in that type of situation, miracles can happen.”

To stay up to date with Be Life Saving, make sure to follow them on Instagram and visit them at the Boston Marathon Expo so that you too can learn to be a lifesaver.

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