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Monday, February 7, 2011

Peter Hass Dies During Kaiser Permanente Marathon, City Investigates

Posted By on Mon, Feb 7, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Update: San Francisco's Department of Emergency Services investigate whether race organizers had an appropriate medical emergency plan in place. Read more at the bottom.

Man down at the finish line
  • Man down at the finish line
Amid the crowds and unusual heatwave that hit San Francisco Saturday afternoon, a runner died at the finish line after nearly completing the Kaiser Permanente half-marathon.

The 36-year-old Orinda man, who has been identified as Peter Hass, had been running for two hours when he collapsed. Witnesses say that Hass didn't have a "fighting chance," since medical staff and paramedics didn't arrive for another 20 minutes.

After Hass fell to the ground, race volunteers pleaded for help. An announcer made repeated calls for medical assistance, yet only runners standing around came to Hass' aid and performed CPR, according to media reports.

So why were there no paramedics or medical staff at the finish line of a long-distance race sponsored by one of the state's largest health care providers?

Marc Brown, a Kaiser spokesman, provided only the following statement:


Permanente is a promotional sponsor of the San Francisco half marathon, which does not include operations, management, or

staffing the medical response.  We are working with the race organizers

and others  to understand the facts surrounding this incident."

The race was organized by Rhodyco, which has been producing major fitness events for more than 20 years, according to its web site.

Company reps with Rhodyco sent a statement, saying paramedics were stationed at the finish line, yet had been called away to help another distressed runner at the time that he had collapsed . The tragedy sparked conversation on Kaiser Permanente's Facebook page, where participants and spectators described what they saw.

"He laid there for

31 minutes (I counted) without true medical support, other than the CPR

being provided by staff at the finish line. Where were the

paramedics? No defibrillator at the finish line? No ambulance at the

finish line? You've got to be kidding right?" one comment reads.

City officials with the Department of Emergency Services said every event being held in the city must submit an emergency response plan for approval. In this case, race organizers did submit a plan that met the city's minimum requirements for emergency aid and response. However, city officials are investigating whether that plan was fully implemented, said Rob Dudgeon, deputy director with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Services.

Event organizers are supposed to provide their own medical teams so that events do not tax the city's emergency 911 system, Dudgeon said.

"We had a death at a race, and we had the city's 911 system pulled in to provide medical assistance," Dudgeon said. "  So I'd say that the assets dedicated to the race were insufficient. We are investigating." 

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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