At 28 years old, Heather Baker, a school administrator from Pecatonica, Illinois, experienced a life-altering event. During a meeting with colleagues, she suddenly felt nauseous and dizzy, leading to her collapsing and hitting her head. Unbeknownst to her, she was suffering from cardiac arrest.
Bill Faller, the district superintendent, immediately recognized the signs and began administering CPR, having recently completed training. Simultaneously, a pregnant school psychologist fetched an automated external defibrillator (AED). Tim King, the middle school principal and a volunteer firefighter, arrived and used the AED, eventually stabilizing Baker's heart rhythm.
Hospitalized and placed in a medically induced coma, Baker learned upon awakening how CPR and quick thinking saved her life. Her survival was remarkable, given her youth and the low survival rate of cardiac arrest outside hospitals.
Baker's health history was unremarkable. An athlete throughout her life, with no preexisting conditions, her cardiac arrest was a mystery. Her doctors speculated that migraine medication, which affected her potassium levels, might have played a role.
Grateful for her survival, Baker reflected on her grandfather's similar heart issue, which tragically resulted in his death as he was alone at the time. This contrast made her appreciate the importance of having people around who could perform CPR.
Now a mother to a son with a heart condition (a right ventricular aneurysm detected before birth), Baker is even more committed to promoting CPR training. Her son's condition, believed to be unrelated to genetics, has intensified her resolve to ensure safety in schools and communities.
Since her incident in 2018, Baker has trained nearly 3,000 people in CPR. She's actively involved with the American Heart Association and Project ADAM, focusing on increasing AED accessibility and CPR knowledge in schools. Her experience has not only shaped her life but has also ignited a passion to empower others with lifesaving skills.