EAST LANSING, Mich. — Nearly 400,000 calls that come into Ingham County's 911 call center annually. Many of them are life and death situations.
One of those emergencies took an unexpected turn and brought an East Lansing couple together with the 911 operator who helped save a life.
Chris Thompson is used to handling emergencies. He’s been a 911 operator for 21-years and has taken thousands of calls.
But, he says one call stands out, one he took two years ago.
“A call came in and I quickly realized the man on the phone needed to administer CPR,” he said.
A 22-year-old Michigan State wrestler, Chase Beard, was on the other end of the line. His girlfriend, Brittney, was unconscious and had stopped breathing.
Chase says he was scared out of his mind.
“I just remember screaming, 'Hurry, hurry,' and then the 911 operator asked me, 'What happened?' and I explain what happened and that she wasn't breathing. So, he told me, 'OK you're going to have to give CPR. Do you know how to?' I said, 'No.'"
So Chris talked him through what to do next.
He gave him directions on how to give Brittney CPR and, eventually, Brittany began to breathe again.
Chase says he’s never been more scared. He thought he was going to lose the love of his life.
“We started dating when we were 16 in high school," he said. "Even back then, we were that young, we were making plans together. We knew we really loved each other, and we wanted to be together. We started making plans together and we wanted to go to school together, college together. We wanted to get married and build a house and have a family together. And I was losing all that all at once. Just everything was going away.”
Brittney was rushed to a local hospital where they determined she had a heart attack.
Brittney says she doesn't remember much.
“I had surgery and they had to decide whether they're going to stick a defibrillator in me or a pacemaker," she said. "So, they first went into my heart and gave it a couple of pokes to see how we reacted and reacted favorably. So, I have a defibrillator on my left side now. So, if it ever picks up my heart being irregular or close to causing something, again, like a cardiac arrest, it's going to shock me.”
After Brittney’s surgery and recovery, the couple wanted to get in touch with and thank the 911 operator who they credit with saving Brittney’s life.
But time got away from them. The couple graduated from MSU, got married, and put the idea of a meeting the 911 operator on the back burner.
But then, this past March, Chase, and Brittney thought about Chris again.
So, they decided to write an email to the East Lansing Police Department which eventually made its way to the director of Ingham County 911., Barb Davidson.
“I’ve been in this position for over 20 years and never has anyone ever wanted to meet the 911 operator that helped them. It’s just a wonderful story,” she said.
Barb helped set up a meeting for Chase and Brittany to meet Thompson.
Brittany says she is so thankful for him.
“I know just in general, a cardiac arrest has a 10 percent survival. Just in general one in 10 people survive it. And it all has to do with those first crucial moments. If you don't have someone who gets to you, you're not likely to survive it,” she said.
Chase is also thankful.
“Chris, the 911 operator, is a good neighbor because he completely helped me save her life. Without him, I would not have been able to give her CPR and get her breathing again until the first responders arrived,” he said.
Chris says he was just doing his job but is grateful there is a happy ending to the story.
“We don’t get a lot of happy endings in this kind of work," he said. "I couldn’t ask for a better story. I’m so honored to meet them and happy that everything worked out okay in the end. They are good people.”
We want to thank Chris Thompson and all the 911 operators who help save lives every day. You are this week’s Good Neighbors.
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