Healthy You - Every Day

Heartfelt Reunion at LVH–Pocono

Man whose heart stopped on the slopes last year reunites with doctors, nurses

Close to 400 days ago, Steve Bomberger lay temporarily lifeless on the ski slopes at Camelback Resort in the Poconos.

On Wednesday, the situation was as different as a bunny slope from a double black-diamond run.

It was reunion day for Bomberger, 67, a volunteer ski ranger at Camelback, and those who had a hand in restarting his heart, saving his life and implanting a stent and defibrillator at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono.

Bomberger, a retired Delaware homebuilder from Landenberg, Chester County, was volunteering as a ranger on the slopes at Camelback last April 2, something he often did. His second home in nearby Pocono Pines puts him in the middle of Pocono ski territory.

“Cardiac care today for sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is actually a team sport. We need a whole team to be able to get that patient back to life and be a functional person.” - Jonathan Goldner, DO

As he spoke with Camelback ski patrol members Mike Brong and Rich Miller, Bomberger’s world went dark, and he slumped to the snow with no heartbeat. Brong, a former paramedic, and Miller jumped into action, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and calling into the ski patrol base for someone to bring an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Bomberger regained consciousness after the first shock from the AED. He was taken to LVH–Pocono, where Anil Gupta, MD, Chief of Cardiology, installed a stent in Bomberger’s partially blocked coronary artery.

Bomberger had an automated defibrillator implanted by cardiologist and electrophysiologist Simon Gringut, MD, as insurance against a future sudden cardiac arrest. Dr. Gringut says people who experience sudden cardiac arrest have a 50% chance of a recurrence, which is why the defibrillator was implanted.

Thanks and praise

“Cardiac care today for sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is actually a team sport,” Jonathan Goldner, DO, Chief Medical Officer at LVH–Pocono and LVH–Dickson City, told those gathered at LVH–Pocono for the reunion. “We need a whole team to be able to get that patient back to life and be a functional person.”

Dr. Goldner credited all who played a role in helping Bomberger, from Miller and Brong’s use of CPR and the AED, to paramedics who took Bomberger to LVH–Pocono, to the hospital’s cardiac team.

“They [Brong and Miller] were the ones who made the cake. We just put the icing on,” Dr. Gupta says. He said their quick action prevented the need for more advanced cardiac care, such as a temporary heart pump. Bomberger’s heart suffered no damage when it stopped. Had Bomberger needed that more advanced care, it is only available in the region at LVH–Pocono.

Brong and Miller remain modest about their good deed. They have credited their CPR and AED training for the happy ending to the story and are gratified to have been there when they were needed most.

Bomberger was at Wednesday’s reunion with his wife Natalie, who was back home in Landenberg, when she got the call last year about her husband. There were hugs aplenty, and even a few tears, as Steve Bomberger recounted the day his heart stopped on the slopes.

He called Miller and Brong his angels and thanked everyone for all they did for him. “God brought them on the trail that day to bring me back,” Bomberger says. “Wonderful doctors gave me the best care I could have asked for in an area I’m not familiar with. I’m not from the Poconos, I’m from down near Philadephia. I feel very grateful to have had such a great outcome.”

Dr. Goldner says more than 1,000 Americans die every day from out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest, with 60%-80% never making it to the hospital. Of those that get to a hospital, only about 10% survive.

Holding back tears, Bomberger told reunion attendees he cherishes being able to be with his loved ones. His daughter got married in October, and the fact that the odds last April were against him being there was not lost on anyone. “It was a very emotional day for me to be able to walk her down the aisle and think about the alternative of not being able to do that,” he says.

Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute


Learn CPR

Be prepared to make a difference at a moment’s notice

Explore More Articles