California man thankful for doctors who saved him after track heart attack

Gary Zarounian is thankful for doctors and medics who saved his life last summer.
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When crowds fill the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the population tops the size of most Indiana communities. The corresponding medical support is strategically staffed and time and again has saved lives.

A grateful race fan who had a heart attack at IMS last summer traveled from California to say thanks.

Ryan Newman won NASCAR's Brickyard 400 last summer. As soon as the winners started celebrating, Gary Zarounian headed to his car.

"After the races, I say goodbye to everybody and I'm walking to my car and five days later, I wake up and I'm in the hospital," Zarounian said.

Gary was 59 years old and in cardiac arrest.

"I don't remember the race, nothing," he said.

But he does remember those who saved him. So he returned Thursday to IU Health Methodist Hospital.

"It actually is a joy for me," said Dr. George Revtyak. "I would say he is a miracle, if you look at patients that have cardiac arrests outside of the hospital, the survival rate is very low. Like, in the single digits, almost."

Revtyak says the action of medics on the scene to quickly stabilize and provide emergency care to Zarounian before he was taken to the hospital saved his life.

Gary now has multiple stents, a pacemaker defibrillator and his Indianapolis doctor's cell phone number.

"Just as a safety net. Just in case," Revtyak said.

Gary will be in town for awhile, making more memories as he catches the IndyCars at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis and staying through for the 500.

"You can't say thank you enough, you know. I am perfect proof of a lot of people and I'm lucky to be here to talk about it," he said.

Gary is so grateful, he is arranging a "thank you reunion" for the first responders, the paramedics, state police and doctors by inviting them all to the REV event at the Speedway Friday night. Money raised at the event supports the Methodist Health Foundation and is earmarked for the track hospital.