RIVERTON — It was a bright, warm day in August when Darren Mann collapsed without warning.
Mann, 48, was playing Ultimate Frisbee with friends at Riverton City Park when he went into cardiac arrest and fell to the grass.
Sitting nearby, dozens of families were at a picnic for the LDS Church's Golden Meadows 1st Ward.
Meghan Allen and her family were among the group when a man ran up to her.
Somebody had fallen, he said, gesturing to the Frisbee players.
Allen waved to one of her friends, Shelly Burton. Both women work as nurses at Primary Children's Hospital. When they reached Mann, he had irregular breathing and no heartbeat.
"It was scary," Allen said. "But we have training, and we knew what to do."
The women immediately began performing CPR. Stefanie Burt was also at the park with her kids when she noticed the resuscitation efforts.
With her experience as a respiratory therapist at Intermountain Medical Center, Burt hurried over to help.
"You just never know if people are doing it correctly or if they’re just being good citizens," she said. "My instinct was just to go help."
Every year, nearly 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrests outside of hospitals in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Without immediate help in the first few minutes, more than 90 percent of those people die.
But thanks to the efforts from the three bystanders, Mann survived.
All three women received Life Saving Awards from the Unified Fire Authority on Thursday at the Unified Fire Station 124 in Riverton.
"Having somebody on the scene right away to help is a huge plus. I really want to commend those people who step forward and take advantage of the skills that they've got," Unified Fire Authority Chief Dan Petersen said.
Unified fire personnel Tyler Cox, Marc McDonald, Doug McKean and Leroy Sandberg were also given awards as the first responders to the scene.
While the women performed CPR, another witness ran to the fire station, located less than a block from the park. The witness flagged down a Unified Fire Authority team just leaving the station.
When the responders heard about the resuscitation efforts, they quickly rerouted to the park.
"It’s really hard for us to get there within three, five minutes," Petersen said. "If somebody is there within a minute or two, it’s a really monumental opportunity for us to make a life-saving change."
The responders restarted Mann's heartbeat with a single shock from a defibrillator and transported him to the hospital.
"I’m just thankful that they were there to help me. I probably wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for them," he said.
Mann attended the awards ceremony Thursday to meet and thank the women who saved his life.
"He would’ve been gone if they hadn’t been there to keep him going," said his mother, Cheryl Mann. "There were so many things that fell right into place. It wasn’t his time to go."
"To see him alive and so healthy and well, it was so rewarding," Allen said.
Doctors told Mann there was no damage or scarring after the incident.
"He said, 'I don’t think this is ever going to happen again. I can’t explain why it happened to you and not to somebody else,'" Mann said.
This was the first time Burton or Allen had performed CPR on an adult, they said. Although she was nervous, Burton said she was humbled to be able to help.Comment on this story
"I just think it’s important that everyone learn CPR. If I can do it, anybody can do it," she said. "You never know when you’re going to need it."
The Unified Fire Authority offers a 10-minute CPR training video called "Push to Survive" on its website. It also offers classes and CPR certification.
"We should do the best we can. The alternative is the potential that they’re not going to make it at all," Petersen said.
"Better to try your best than to do nothing," Burt agreed.