By Chris Ramirez and Tom Szymanski

Off Duty UNM Hospital Employees Save a Bicyclist’s Life on the Bosque Trail

The morning of Sunday Oct. 29th wasn’t too different for Albuquerque resident Nicholas Juskiewicz and Brandon Behrens, MD, a trauma surgeon at The University of New Mexico Hospital. Jusckiewicz put on his cycling kit and headed to Albuquerque’s Old Town area to start the Day of the Tread 61-mile bicycle ride. Behrens, just finishing an overnight shift, did the same.

Neither had ever met before, but fate would ensure they would. Juskiewicz, a seasoned cyclist, began the ride near Hotel Chaco once his group was called up. Behrens, riding with his husband and friends were not too far behind. About eight miles into the ride along the Bosque Trail, Juskiewicz realized he just wasn’t feeling right; something was off.

“I had no-go power,” Juskiewicz said from his UNM Hospital room. “I couldn’t make the bike go. It was a struggle. I sat down, recovered a bit, and decided to go back. But about a half mile down, I decided I wasn’t going to ride, and I think I started walking my bike.” 

Behrens, riding behind Juskiewicz, noticed he had collapsed to the ground. Instinctively, Behrens knew that Juskiewicz was in medical distress. He gave his bike to a friend and immediately went over to help.

“He was gray and blue, and he was having a difficult time breathing, so I immediately started checking for pulse and seeing if he was awake and alert- and he wasn’t,” Behrens explained.

Juskiewicz was having a heart attack, and his pulse was weak. 

In what can only be described as a miracle, Behrens found other UNM Hospital staff nearby who joined him in helping. Brandi Thompson, RN; Ron Gray, NP; Kelsey Turk, PA; and Newt Turk, RN worked with Behrens spending twenty minutes performing CPR and chest compressions until paramedics arrived. With EMS on scene, the crew cut off Juskiewicz’s Day of the Tread jersey to connect him to an IV and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) to get his heart’s rhythm back in sync.


“We got the AED going and delivered a couple rounds of shocks, continued CPR, and by the time they were able to get him on a stretcher and in the ambulance, he had started to wake up,” Behrens explained.

The ambulance transported Juskiewicz to UNM Hospital where medical staff provided additional lifesaving care.

Recovering in the hospital’s cardiology unit, Juskiewicz and Behrens reunited for the first time two days later. Holding back tears, Juskiewicz thanked Behrens for saving his life.

“I just have to thank him from the bottom of my heart because it’s still beating now,” Juskiewicz said. 

I just have to thank him from the bottom of my heart because it’s still beating now.
Nicholas Juskiewicz, UNM Hospital Patient

“No ‘thank yous’ are necessary,” Behrens told him. “I was just at the right place at the right time. I’m just very happy to see that you’re doing as well as you are.”

Juskiewicz, a collector of race jerseys, expressed his sadness that his race jersey had to be cut off him once paramedics arrived. Staff from UNM Health and Health Sciences contacted Day of the Tread event organizers to inform them of Juskiewicz’s story. Within hours, a Day of the Tread leader surprised Juskiewicz with his second surprise—a new jersey for his collection.

Juskiewicz is expected to make a recovery and it’s because of the five guardian angels- the UNM Hospital employees whose care and compassion extend far beyond the hospital walls. 

Categories: Community Engagement, News You Can Use, School of Medicine, Top Stories, UNM Hospital