Danny Berger, SCA Survivor Prepares for Return to the Court

The end of summer signals the slow-march back to normalcy for many college students. For one student, however, his return to campus and basketball is anything but normal.

Danny Berger, who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) during practice on Dec. 4, 2012, has been cleared by doctors to return to the court for the Utah State Aggies less than one year after head athletic trainer Mike Williams revived him with a Cardiac Science Powerheart® AED.

As Berger told ESPN’s Andy Katz recently:

“Basketball is an enormous part of my life,” Berger said. “I’m sure it is to a lot of people too. I want to be that guy that is an example to a lot of people. I want to give them hope.”

Cardiac Science, which partnered with Utah State to deploy automated external defibrillators (AED) throughout the Logan, Utah, campus in 2012, spoke with head athletic trainer Mike Williams about the day when he had to utilize an AED to save Danny’s life.

“We were just having practice,” Williams recalls. “It was a relatively light practice, getting ready to play one of our in-state rivals. You would not have expected anything to happen.”

But toward the end of the practice, Danny, playing defense, went up to block a teammate’s shot.

“He came down, he turned around, and he passed out,” Williams said. “I ran down and, by the time I got to him, I saw he was taking ineffective breaths.”

While Williams started CPR, others called 911 and got the nearby AED.

“I’m the guy who trains our coaching staff in CPR,” Williams explains. “In spite of my training, until that day I’d never had to use an AED.

“I started CPR on Danny and the AED was there within a minute of the time Danny hit the floor,” Williams said. “The AED did the analyzing and then it shocked him. I continued with the CPR and checked his pulse. By the time the EMTs were entering the building, Danny’s heartbeat had come back strong.”

Preparation was the key to saving Berger’s life. Williams points out that the basketball team’s manager had run to get the AED as soon as Berger collapsed, even before Williams had called for it. The EMTs from the on-campus fire department arrived quickly. They had Berger out of the building and on the way to the nearby hospital less than 10 minutes after he’d collapsed.

“Seconds count in a cardiac arrest situation,” he said. “We were prepared.”

With a second chance at life, Berger is now focusing on his first game against USC.

“I’ve probably daydreamed about that moment at least once a day,” Berger told Katz. “It makes me think about how much I’m thankful to God for what he’s done for me and the miracles he has performed in the past year. It could have gone the other way. I may not have been playing basketball right now, but I am. It’s such a blessing and a special feeling to get out there and start playing again.”

Cardiac Science wishes you the best of luck, Danny.