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Medical Precautions Questioned In San Francisco Race Death

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San Francisco Half Marathon

Runners participate at the San Francisco Half Marathon, February 6, 2011. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – The death of a runner in a half-marathon in San Francisco this weekend has prompted city officials to investigate whether race organizers provided sufficient medical resources for the event.

Peter Hass, 36, of Orinda, died in Golden Gate Park near the finish line of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon on Sunday morning, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Hass was pronounced dead near 47th Avenue and John F. Kennedy Drive at about 10:15 a.m. after collapsing near the 13.1-mile mark.

An autopsy was performed but his cause of death won’t be determined until further testing is completed by the medical examiner’s office.

Rob Dudgeon, deputy director of the city’s Office of Emergency Services, said RhodyCo Productions, the organizer of the race, submitted an emergency plan for the event and “had medical assets in place…but it’s apparent that those assets were insufficient.”

The company released a statement saying that “while there were reports of a lack of qualified medical personnel at the finish, this is not true.”

The statement said the company had hired a private ambulance for the event, and had two tents staffed by qualified medical personnel near the finish line.

However, San Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said “there was nobody from their medical team or whoever they had there that was ever on scene at that incident.”

The private ambulance had been called away to a runner in distress elsewhere along the course at the time of Hass’ collapse, the company’s statement said.

Hass ended up being treated primarily by other runners and bystanders, including three members of the fire department who happened to be participating in the race, Talmadge said.

Medics from the fire department eventually arrived on scene, but it took them 22 minutes to get there because three different locations were given by people calling 911, including an initial caller who said the incident was at the other end of Golden Gate Park, Talmadge said.

“Certainly the person who called it in was well-intentioned, but the bottom line is our response is only as good as the information we’re given,” she said.

The Office of Emergency Services is investigating the incident to “find out what happened and why it happened, to look at the policies and procedures to make sure it never happens again,” Dudgeon said.

The statement by RhodyCo said the company “is committed to gathering and confirming all the facts before sharing additional details,” and added that Kaiser Permanente, while serving as the primary race sponsor, had no responsibility for medical services during the race.

Sunday’s race had about 10,000 participants.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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