BAKERSFIELD, CA— Every parent and grandparent hope the lessons and values they instill in their children will make a difference. For retiree Irene Sample, she never imaged that the skills she taught her great-grandchildren would one day save her life—yet, that is exactly what happened.
Last July, Sample and her great-granddaughter Eunique Latchison, were walking home in the heat of the Bakersfield summer (the high reached 107ºF that afternoon) from picking up some books that they were going to donate to their church. As she entered her residence, it became obvious that the extreme heat had taken a toll on her, so she asked Eunique to get her something to drink. When she returned, the 11-year-old discovered her great-grandmother had collapsed, was unconscious and not breathing.
She grabbed her brother Darian, who started performing CPR while she called 9-1-1.
“In the first few seconds, when the person [9-1-1 dispatcher] was talking to me about doing it, I didn’t really feel like I was doing anything,” the 16-year-old told Cassie Carlisle, a reporter with KERO-TV ABC 23. “But I blocked it out of my mind and the only thing there at that time was me and my grandma, nothing mattered to me, it was just keeping my grandma alive,” he said.
The children relentlessly continued CPR not knowing if they were making a difference. “My arms felt weak, they felt like noodles, so, you know, me pushing down as hard as I can, I was just unsure,” Darian said.
Physically and mentally exhausted, the children sighed a sign of relief upon the arrival of the Bakersfield Fire Department and a Hall Ambulance advanced life support crew consisting of Paramedic Marsha Aase and her EMT partner, William Cassidy.
Medical aid was provided and when the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Eunique and Darian’s great grandmother had a pulse and was starting to wake up.
For many paramedics, the story ends here—often not knowing the outcome of their patient they provided medical aid to; however, something about this call resonated with Aase. She was immensely impressed with the efforts of Sample’s courageous great-grandchildren—knowing the positive difference that early CPR can make for someone suffering from cardiac arrest.
Ms. Sample was previously a licensed foster parent in San Jose, where she was required to maintain her CPR certification. For her, knowing CPR is a responsibility and obligation that everyone should possess, including her family.
Anxious to hear the outcome of Irene’s prognosis, Aase stopped by her bedside twice during her recovery in the hospital. This display of compassion touched Sample’s family so much, that her daughter Renita, reached out to say thank you, which led to a patient reunion with a cause for celebration.
On May 19, Irene Sample, accompanied by her great-grandchildren and daughter, came to the Hall Ambulance Community Center, located in downtown Bakersfield to meet her EMS and public safety rescuers.
All shed tears of joy and relief, as the events of that day were re-told.
Hall Ambulance Founder and President Harvey L. Hall presented Paramedic Aase and EMT Cassidy with his Company’s Star of Life award in recognition for their outstanding effort to revive Ms. Sample, and for displaying heartwarming compassion.
With great admiration, Hall then called upon Eunique and Darian to stand with him as he recognized their lifesaving deeds and presented each of them with a special award, highlighting their role in the chain of survival by recognizing a medical emergency, calling 9-1-1 and performing CPR until emergency medical services arrived.
The resilient great grandmother than took to the podium to convey her heartfelt appreciation to the paramedic crew and firefighters who came to her aid. With happy-emotion and pride, she then thanked her great-grandchildren for putting into practice the skill she firmly believes every person should know.