With nearly one million revelers joyously drinking in their team’s first championship, the Astros’ World Series victory parade had wended through the sun-baked streets of downtown Houston to City Hall, where the next phase of the celebration would take place. On stage, the exhilarated Astros were joined by local politicians and a number of luminaries at the start of the official ceremony honoring the team. It was then that Rich Dauer, the club's first base coach, abruptly began to stagger, almost as if he was drunk. He stepped to the back of the stage with the other coaches as the players were being introduced to the crowd.

Something clearly was not right. Manager A.J. Hinch immediately noticed a difference in Dauer’s color and in his state of mind that was alarming. At that point, even Dauer knew there was a problem. “I don’t really feel too good,” he told the team’s assistant hitting coach Alonzo Powell. Then, suddenly, Dauer became less responsive. Bench coach Alex Cora was anxiously looking on and started shouting to Dauer: “Are you OK? ARE YOU OK?”

Very quickly, and almost entirely out of public view, a drama was unfolding that would determine whether the 65-year-old Dauer would live or die.

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Jeremiah Randall, the Astros’ head athletic trainer, had no idea Dauer’s life was in danger when he saw the EMTs descend from the stage, carrying the coach on a stretcher. The stage was so crowded, Randall and his assistant athletic trainers, Scott Barringer and Daniel Roberts, were standing below, off to the side. The three quickly conferred, trying to figure out how to get Dauer through the crowd, to an ambulance. Their initial conclusion was the same as everyone else’s who had noticed Dauer’s sluggishness that day; he was dehydrated, exhausted from the Astros’ long playoff run and exuberant celebration downtown.

The trainers and EMTs found a golf cart and placed the stretcher with Dauer onto the back of the vehicle. Randall sat in the front and called the Astros’ head team physician, Dr. David Lintner. The two discussed whether Randall should take Dauer to a small, local emergency room or a larger facility. Lintner pushed for Houston Methodist, a hospital rated No. 1 in Texas and No. 19 nationally in the 2016-17 rankings by U.S. News and World Report, “just on the outside chance there was something bad going on.”

First, Randall had to locate an ambulance. The nearest one was three blocks away, no easy distance to navigate through jam-packed streets. “There were a million people downtown,” Randall says. “You couldn’t get anywhere. The roads were all blocked off. There was just nowhere to go.” Traffic remained a major problem even as the group reached the ambulance and got Dauer inside. Randall estimates the ambulance did not move for 30 minutes.