UA Cancer Center Retiree Is (Almost) Back in the Saddle


UA Cancer Center Retiree Is (Almost) Back in the Saddle

When Bill Chacon (left) saw Gene Gerner fall off his horse, he knew something was seriously wrong: Gene wasn’t moving. That’s when Bill, who just completed a chest-compression-only CPR refresher course, ran over to see if he could help. Bill and Sandy Gerner, Gene’s wife, teamed up to do the 3 Cs of chest-compression-only CPR – Check, Call, Compress. Bill, who was visiting his in-laws, the Gerner’s neighbors, quickly began chest compressions while Sandy called 9-1-1. The emergency crew arrived a few minutes later and transported Gene to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. There, Kapil Lotun, MD, opened Gene’s blocked arteries and Karl Kern, MD, oversaw his care during the week he remained unconscious.

“Gene had no prior history, but his right coronary artery was 99.9 percent blocked. Dr. Lotun inserted four stents,” said Sandy. “Bill gave Gene his life back.”

Gene, a professor emeritus from the University of Arizona Cancer Center, continues to recuperate at home and plans to slow down a bit during the rest of 2015. Hopefully, he’ll be back in the saddle soon.


Would you know what to do if you saw someone suddenly collapse?

  • Check for responsiveness – Shake the person and shout, “Are you OK?”
  • Call – Direct someone to call 9-1-1 or make the call yourself if the person is unresponsive and struggling to breathe (gasping or snoring).
  • Compress – With the victim flat on the floor, begin forceful chest compressions at a rate of 100 per minute. Place the heel of one hand on top and place the heel of the bottom hand on the center of the victim’s chest. Lock your elbows and compress the chest forcefully; make sure you lift up enough to let the chest recoil.

If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, turn the unit on and follow the voice instructions. If no AED is available, perform chest compressions continuously until the paramedics arrive. This is physically tiring so if someone else is available, take turns after each 100 chest compressions. AEDs are small boxes marked by a heart with lightning flash symbol.

Visit to watch a demonstration video featuring Dr. Kern and to find more resources.

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