LOGAN — Perhaps the most startling thing Brian Berger learned about Danny Berger’s heart failure this week was that his son’s chance of experiencing such an episode was less than that of nearly all his teammates.
That didn’t stop him from expressing gratitude to a variety of individuals for Danny’s recovery so far.
And it didn’t stop Utah State University assistant athletic trainer Mike Williams from describing it as the most fortunate occasion of his career.
As for Danny, the circumstances surrounding a week full of prayer, anxiety and trepidation — and even hospital visits from “Wild” Bill Sproat and Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin and player Gordon Hayward — have caused him to reiterate one message.
“Just that it’s a miracle of God is all that’s been going through my mind,” he said. “I obviously thank Mike and my family for everything they’ve done. It’s just a miracle.”
The three addressed the media Saturday — Danny Berger’s second news conference in as many days.
Williams expressed gratitude to individuals ranging from the team trainer to the Intermountain Medical Center staff in Murray for their efforts.
Brian Berger emphasized that “every link of the chain” connected in bringing his son from his collapse at the end of basketball practice Tuesday afternoon back to the Smith Spectrum on Saturday, wearing a stabilizing brace around his midsection.
And even though Williams said it may be too early to be anxious about Danny Berger returning to the court, the player is shocked that he might be able to return to the lineup within six weeks.
“We’ll just take it one day at a time and see what happens,” he said. “But my mom is concerned. She just wants me to be in the library.”
Williams said that it took less than two minutes for him to apply an automated external defibrillator after Berger had collapsed in the arms of teammate Kyisean Reed.
In less than 10 minutes from the cardiac arrest, Berger was being transported to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.
Brian Berger was informed of his son’s collapse while in Nevada, traveling from Medford, Ore., to Provo for the Aggies’ game against BYU, which has since been rescheduled for Feb. 19. The Nevada Highway Patrol let him drive 110 miles per hour to reach the hospital.
“What can you do when you are still six or seven hours away?” Berger said. “I’m grateful to have been close.”
Williams, who is in his 14th year as an assistant athletic trainer at Utah State, was across the court when Berger collapsed during a routine practice.
Williams, 43, was on site in 2007 when rodeo rider Tag Elliott nearly died after a bull gored him in the head. He was among those who helped stabilize Elliott. But until Tuesday, Williams had only taught CPR, never performed it.
If Tuesday’s scene was chaotic, Williams said he didn’t have time to notice. He yelled for the manager to call 911 and get the automatic defibrillator (AED).
“I remember looking down and starting CPR, mouth-to-mouth, the compressions, and then hooking the AED up,” Williams said. “That’s the worst part because it takes 15 seconds to analyze and you’re just sitting there waiting.”
The machine finally said “shock advised,” and Williams administered the shock, then went back to CPR. On the third set, he heard Berger gurgle a bit then blew another really hard breath into him.
“As I pulled up, I actually saw the pulse in his carotid artery before I felt it,” Williams said.
Only afterward, when he tried to call the head trainer, did he realize how traumatic the situation was.
While the USU athletics department owns three AEDs, Williams said it’s far too few for USU’s approximately 400 student-athletes. Ideally, he added, each team should be able to take one on road trips, with one found in every gym at the university’s athletics and recreation complex.
“They are expensive,” he said, adding that USU’s costs $1,200 each, though some can be purchased for $800. “Unfortunately, it’s not a priority until you need one. Our staff and administrators are looking out for the student athletes and looking for progress.”
Berger now has a permanent defibrillator implanted next to his heart.
“I’ve talked a lot to my dad about how Brady Jardine last year went down (with a foot injury). With one thing, your career can be over,” he said. “To still have a chance to play the game of basketball is amazing.
“I had felt normal. It was just a freak accident.”
Information from The Associated Press is included in this article.