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Students save life of Lewis and Clark track coach with CPR: ‘I did what I knew to do’

By Elena Perry, The Spokesman-Review
Published: March 25, 2024, 7:40am

SPOKANE — At the start of track practice Monday, volunteer distance coach Mike Hadway taught his team at Lewis and Clark High School how to monitor their own pulse while running. He instructed them to press their pointer and middle fingers against their windpipe until they could feel the blood pumping.

Later that practice, runner Brody Graham, 17, put the technique to use. Standing over an unconscious and bloodied Hadway, Graham pressed the two fingers into his coach’s neck, digging in vain for a pulse after Hadway collapsed suddenly.

“In the moment, your heart’s beating so fast, you can feel it all around you. And you gotta make that moment. You gotta say, ‘Do I feel the pulse of my fingers or do I feel the pulse of my coach?’ “ Graham recalled. “I was like, ‘I’m not feeling a pulse here; I’m gonna have to start compressions.’ I did what I knew to do.”

Now recovering, the 69-year-old Hadway collapsed suddenly in an apparent cardiac arrest. Graham, a trained lifeguard, and teammate Grant Lichfield decisively administered CPR while emergency services were on the way, saving Hadway’s life, while the rest of the team of teenage boys delegated the situation.

“What’s cool with those kids, too, is you work as a team in sports, but they really worked as a team outside of sports,” said Josh Hadway, the coach’s son. “I think that’s really cool that they came together and didn’t hesitate.”

Despite their quick thinking and successful first aid, neither Graham nor Lichfield had ever given CPR to a real human before.

“It’s really terrifying, because you gotta break their ribs and their sternum,” Graham said.

Rib fractures are a common side effect of effective CPR; according to the National Institute of Health, 70% of CPR cases result in skeletal chest injuries. Hadway’s sternum and multiple ribs broke.

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When he took over chest compressions from Graham, Lichfield had one thing on his mind.

“The tune of ‘Stayin’ Alive,’ “ he said.

The American Heart Association recommends using the Bee Gees’ song from “Saturday Night Fever” as a metronome for chest compressions. At 100 beats per minute, the song is the minimum rate the association advises giving compressions.

There were no other adults around when Hadway collapsed near Manito Park, only student Parker Whitmore. The 17-year-old had asked his coach and running expert for advice on a shoulder injury while the rest of his team trained by repeatedly running hill repeats.

The boys know Hadway to have a keen sense of humor; when he fell face-first, Whitmore first thought it was some kind of joke.

“We were kind of like laughing and joking before. I just thought he was pranking me,” Whitmore said. “Then I was like, ‘Hadway? Hadway?’ Then I moved him to his other side and see his face all bloody, and I’m like ‘Oh, this isn’t good.’ “

Hadway fell face-first. The impact cut up his face and caused it to swell.

Runners don’t carry their phones during practice. Whitmore retrieved Hadway’s phone from his pocket and dialed 911, directing responders to the scene on 21st and Bernard.

Next on the scene were teammates Ryan Chavez, 17, and Toby Meier, 16. Sizing up the situation, Meier knew lifeguard Graham and son-of-a-doctor Lichfield would need to administer aid to the unconscious and unbreathing Hadway.

“I basically put it on him. I was like, ‘Brody, you have to do something. No one else here knows what to do,” Meier said. “Instead of being like, ‘I’ve never done this on a real person,’ he just kind of like, gut reaction to check his pulse, very professional about it.”

Graham and Lichfield took turns administering CPR for three minutes before EMTs arrived and took over. Some neighbors came out to help the boys, including Erik Loney, off-duty paramedic for the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department.

Loney lives two blocks away and said he ran out to help when he got a notification of CPR in progress from the app PulsePoint, which alerts users to fire and medical emergencies as they happen.

Flagged down by teammate Harper Churape, Loney administered a couple rounds of compressions before on-duty EMTs arrived. He then relayed information from first responders to the “wide-eyed” and “stunned” teenagers watching EMTs give their coach shocks through a defibrillator.

“I just talked to them,” Loney said, emphasizing the team’s efforts. “They saved his life; they really did.”

Hadway was rushed to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he was recovering late last week.

A CPR teacher, Loney said one’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest decrease by 10% every minute that goes by without compressions or shocks from a defibrillator.

“The chest compressions, it makes such a big difference. It’s rare to get your heartbeat back after an arrest,” he said.

“They’re the ones that saved him. That and the defibrillator.”

After responders arrived, Graham, Chavez and Meier turned their attention to the rest of their team, 25 runners in a daze and assuming the worst 2 miles away from Hart Field.

Phoneless, most of the team had headed back to Hart Field after paramedics were on scene..

“Other than these four people, most of our team assumed that he died,” Meier said. “So there was probably 20 minutes where almost all of us except for them thought he didn’t make it.”

“It was a quiet run back; we were in deep thought,” Lichfield said.

EMTs told the boys they should move Hadway’s truck so his family could find it more easily.

In a moment of “do first, think second,” Whitmore pulled Hadway’s truck keys from his clenched fist and climbed into his white GMC pickup, parked near the scene. He’d never driven a truck before. The 17-year-old had to crank the driver’s seat all the way forward to reach the pedals and the steering wheel.

Churape and teammate Caughnery Freese sat in the back, putting a whole new spin on the term “backseat driving.”

“I had to shift in the backseat for him,” Churape said.

“I was thinking, Hadway’s going to wake up, he’s gonna have broken ribs and he’s going to have a broken pickup,” Freese joked. “His truck’s gonna be totaled too because he let this guy drive.”

Hadway’s truck survived without a scratch.

The boys were in high spirits days after the situation, optimistic for their beloved coach’s quick recovery. Josh Hadway said there was a “really good chance” his dad could return to coaching.

The younger Hadway said on Thursday his dad is in a lot of pain, but can talk and answer questions and recall the sequence of events that led to his collapse.

“He kept saying, ‘Oh man, I probably scared those poor kids,’ “ Josh Hadway said. “He feels really bad.”

A decades-experienced coach and fixture in the Spokane running community, Hadway is a reliable source of sage wisdom for local athletes. When he speaks, “it’s like gospel,” they said.

Hadway spent over 30 years as the cross country and track and field coach at Ferris, with five cross country state championships under his belt. Now retired, he volunteers as assistant coach of cross country and distance running in track at Lewis and Clark.

Hadway is well-known throughout the running community for his bullheaded approach to races, sprinting ahead of the pack rather than reserving energy. He’s known as “Hard-way Hadway.”

“He would always go out really hard at races and just kinda win the hard way,” Josh Hadway said.

His record Bloomsday time is 37 minutes , 24 seconds, said Josh Hadway, who made several futile attempts to beat his dad’s record.

“He was tough; that’s probably the thing about him people remember the most was how tough he was,” said Don Kardong, the founder of Bloomsday and a close running friend of Hadway’s who frequently ran with him when they were younger. “He was always willing to go the extra yard.”

As a coach, Hadway believes in his athletes, even when it’s unprofitable. Chavez recalled Hadway taking out a bet that he’d win an event. He didn’t.

“I might have let him down a little bit, but it felt good he had faith in me,” Chavez said.

Hadway is more than a coach, his athletes said. He’s a friend and confidant.

“He really likes to be with us,” Lichfield said. “He’ll follow us all around and be in all our jokes and he’s really involved. It’s awesome.”

“Hadway would take time out of his day to come and personally talk to you about how you’re doing and how your workout was,” Graham said. “It was really nice to have that connection and know that your coach really wants to see you improve.”

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