Mary Smith took a day off work in March 2017 to visit her daughter and 2-week-old grandson Brody at their home in the Minneapolis suburbs.
Smith hauled a mobile crib up the stairs from the car with supplies for dinner. She was standing in the entryway when she became out of breath.
Lindsey Bomgren, her daughter, heard her collapse with a thump from the hallway to the nursery.
Bomgren called out to her mother, believing she had fallen. Smith remained silent.
Bomgren dropped Brody and dashed to the door. She took out her phone and dialed 9-1-1. She told the operator her mother was not breathing. Smith's heart had stopped beating.
The operator then asked Bomgren a question that would change everything: Could you coach me through CPR?
Although Bomgren had revised her training for the lifesaving method as part of her profession as a fitness instructor nine months prior, she required direction and assistance now that she had to use it – and on her mother.
The dispatcher instructed her to stack them hand-over-hand in the center of her mother's chest. To retain the rhythm needed to keep blood flowing to Smith's organs, the dispatcher repeated the phrases "pump, pump, pump."
She did hands-only CPR for about ten minutes until an ambulance arrived and paramedics took over.
Each year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals. CPR can increase or triple a person's chances of survival, especially if given shortly after cardiac arrest.
Before taking Smith to the hospital, paramedics used an automatic external defibrillator to shock her heart back into rhythm.
Smith had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm, two months before her cardiac arrest. She'd recently finished a month of wearing a cardiac monitor. Her doctor had not yet suggested any further actions based on those findings, but she had been taking medication to treat it.
Smith received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after her cardiac arrest to shock her heart back into rhythm if necessary. (The device was required in January 2018 and performed admirably.)
Because of the dispatcher's part in ensuring a happy ending to their story, Bomgren and Smith became advocates for a proposed state law requiring 911 dispatchers to be taught in how to assist callers in such situations.
"Every second counts while performing CPR, so the sooner you can begin and the greater confidence you have in your ability to continue can help save a life," Bomgren said.