Janesville gym members rush to aid unconscious teen

A Janesville teen lives to share his story thanks to strangers who leapt into action at the gym.
Published: Apr. 9, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - On Monday, Bryce Biba plans to hit the gym for the first time in weeks, returning to where he fell unconscious and relied on the help of strangers to pull through a cardiac arrest incident.

“I was walking down the stairs and realized I got really dizzy. So, I went to try to go sit down, and I just blacked out and fell over basically,” Biba recalled.

He says it was supposed to be a typical workout on St. Patrick’s Day, until he lost consciousness before his workout even began. Fortunately for Biba, several members of the Janesville Athletic Club leapt into action, giving crucial CPR.

“We turned the corner, and I saw a young kid just slumped over and the color that nobody should be and not breathing,” remebered Wayne Wawroski, a gym member working out at the time. “I just started chest compressions until he started breathing again.”

Wawroski said Biba was still unconscious, with a weak pulse and shallow breathing. But, more help was coming in the form of off-duty Janesville Firefighter and Paramedic Chad Toth.

“I got off the treadmill and walked downstairs at the Athletic Club. And, then, I noticed some individuals were rendering CPR,” said Toth.

He helped provide CPR until first responders arrived at the scene. For Biba, those are the first moments he recalls, saying, “I just remember people putting me on the stretcher.”

His mother, Shera Gillingham, says they still do not have answers for why the 19-year-old experienced a cardiac arrest incident, but say he is doing much better. Still, life will not be the same for Biba. An implanted defibrillator sits under his left lat in case another incident occurs, giving him a shock his mother says is similar to an AED. Biba is also on heart medication and awaiting blood work, hoping it will answer the why of the incident.

As for going back to the gym, Gillingham is okay with the idea, and grateful for the people in the gym.

“I feel I feel great about him coming back to the gym because if people weren’t, you know, didn’t save him, he wouldn’t be able to come back to the gym. So, it’s he’s lucky, super Lucky, and grateful,” said Gillingham.

For now, Biba is taking things one day at a time.

“I mean, I just like to think everything happens for a reason, so I don’t have any control over it,” he says. “It just happened, and just move forward from there.”

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