At an eighth-grade spelling bee, Emma Baker spelled the first word properly before returning to her seat, sitting down, and immediately collapsing onto the shoulder of another young competitor.
Emma's heart had stopped.
An EMT, who also happened to be the mother of another student, was present. She went straight to Emma's side. Her principal, a former firefighter, concurred. Before paramedics could resume the rescue operations, the two performed CPR and shocked the girl’s heart with an AED until they arrived.
Cate, Emma's mother, was in Atlanta that day in January 2013 on business. Her daughter, who was anticipating the spelling bee, had been messaging her while she was in her hotel room.
Then, she continued, "I received a phone call 15 minutes after texting with Emma." "Her vice principal told me," Cate, there was an incident. What did Emma do? ’”
The vice principal then clarified that Emma wasn't at fault; instead, she was experiencing medical problems. He questioned Cate extensively regarding her daughter's medical history.
But, Cate claimed, he omitted some crucial information.
He omitted to tell me she wasn't breathing. He failed to inform me that they were performing CPR, Cate said. He told them, "You need to send someone here immediately," and hung up.
When Cate called her employer, they immediately scheduled a private flight for her to return to Kansas. Following the heart arrest, Emma slipped into a coma.
Her lack of a heartbeat for 45 minutes, according to the physicians, will result in significant organ damage, Cate added. They warned us that Emma wouldn't be the same Emma if she did awaken.
The family was also informed by the doctors that she would have to relearn several skills, including simple ones like feeding.
This turned out to be the lowest point because things quickly turned around and started moving in a more positive way.
Emma, now 19 years old, recalled: "The first thing I remember is waking up in the hospital and them telling me I had to go to therapy."
When Emma requested french fries after the doctor informed her she needed to relearn how to eat, Cate knew everything would be alright.
Like any teenager who was starving, she chewed and gulped them down.
The physician declared, "This is a miracle. You're all right."
As Emma overcame the odds, the following medical professionals would come to the same conclusion.
The family was informed by a physician that catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, a heart condition associated with sudden infant death syndrome, was the cause of Emma's cardiac arrest. The illness is characterized by an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, which can be brought on by vigorous exercise or intense mental stress.
The Bakers have actively promoted Hands-Only CPR at events like festivals and schools in order to raise awareness of this life-saving method. It just takes two steps to do hands-only CPR on an adult or teen who has collapsed: first, phone 911; second, push vigorously and quickly in the center of the chest, preferably to the rhythm of the disco song "Stayin' Alive,' ' until aid arrives.
Emma urged her state's lawmakers to demand CPR instruction as a prerequisite for high school graduation. The Kansas Board of Education unanimously voted in December to make Kansas the 38th state to mandate CPR instruction in schools.