MUKILTEO, Wash. — A Mukilteo woman owes her life to a group of bystanders who jumped into action when she needed help. Her remarkable recovery is a reminder of the importance of CPR and defibrillator training.

“I wouldn’t be here without you,” said Linda Surface, during a ceremony at Mukilteo Fire Station 24 on Tuesday evening.

She was leaving an event at her grandson’s school on the evening of Sept. 24 when she collapsed. Surface went into cardiac arrest and had minutes to live.

Bystanders trained in CPR rushed to her aid. One grabbed an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the school. The chest compressions and electric shocks kept Surface alive until paramedics could re-start Surface’s heart.

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“All of the faces were a blur, I wouldn’t recognize one person,” said Tonya Morris, Surface’s daughter.

One of the bystanders, a cardiac nurse, led the others in chest compressions. Some people held phone flashlights overhead to illuminate the dark scene, while another person called 911.

Paramedics told Morris that were it not for others’ quick thinking and training, Surface might not have survived.

“I’m forever grateful, I have lots of things I want to do,” said Surface, who happens to be a retired nurse, “I can’t thank them enough, they gave me my life back.”

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can help save a life during a cardiac or breathing emergency. However, even after training, remembering the CPR steps and administering them correctly can be a challenge.

The American Red Cross provides classes as well as step-by-step explainers on their website. 

More information on how to get CPR and AED training here.

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