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Utah State athletic trainer reveals how he saved Danny Berger's life

Published December 8, 2012 7:58 pm

College basketball • Mike Williams restarted Aggie's heart with defibrillator.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah State athletic trainer Mike Williams had just seen Danny Berger off in an ambulance. He had to call the team doctor to let him know that Berger had collapsed in practice and his heart had to be restarted with a defibrillator.

Williams was frustrated as the phone continued ringing, no one picking up. Then he looked down at the screen.

"I had dialed 10 random digits," Williams said. "I tried to dial again, but my hand was all shaky. After, the adrenaline got there. … It was good that it happened after."

To that point, the 43-year-old had kept his hands steady in crisis, and that was what likely saved Berger's life.

Williams and Berger addressed the media on Saturday afternoon, talking about the circumstances of the Utah State basketball player's collapse on Tuesday and subsequent recovery. And although the weight of the incident has hung over the school and the team, they're glad Berger is still around.

The junior forward acknowledged he was exhausted from the week's events, but he was still grinning as he thanked Williams for bringing him back to life.

"I tried to tell the doctor I wanted [Williams] to be my personal defibrillator, but they didn't go for that," he said "But I owe Mike a lot. I can't pay him back."

Williams had never performed CPR or used a defibrillator in an actual emergency, but he teaches the procedure to others.

The call came to Williams during practice on Tuesday in Logan, and he ran over to Berger after watching him gasp for air and collapse into teammate Kyisean Reed's arms. He felt a faint pulse at first, but directed others to get the defibrillator and call an ambulance.

Williams estimated that it took less than two minutes for Berger to get shocked by the defibrillator. Within four, the ambulance had arrived. Williams said the response had gone about as smoothly as anyone could hope for.

"I sat on the other end of the court, so if only I had been 30 feet closer to him," he said when asked if he could've changed anything he had done. "Little things like that, though, you can't worry about all of them. … Things worked like they were supposed to work."

Berger will be in a sling for the next three weeks as he heals from surgery to insert a defibrillator into his chest. After that, he'll be working with team doctors and his heart doctors to determine if he can continue to play college basketball.

Before the incident, Berger had started every game for the Aggies this season.

Still, his family is simply grateful that he is alive. Brian Berger, Danny's father, said he had much graver concerns when he first got word of his son's collapse in the Nevada desert, hundreds of miles from the hospital.

"I want to thank the Nevada state police, who let me get away with driving 110 miles per hour for six hours," Brian Berger said. "But this experience for our family really could not have been better. If one leak in that chain was weak, it would've been different."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon