Middle-schooler, new mom among those honored at hero breakfast

kterhune@idahostatesman.comMay 23, 2013 

A quick-thinking sixth-grader may have saved her mother’s life when the woman stopped breathing last March.

Lilly Knudsen, 12, was at home with her mother Cheryl when the she noticed her mother’s lips turning blue. Cheryl’s husband called 911 as she went into respiratory arrest. When dispatchers called back, Lilly answered the phone to give the dispatchers information.

As paramedics headed toward the home, the middle-schooler put away the family’s pets and ran into the street to flag down the ambulance. The Knudsens' house was often difficult to find, her mother said later.

Medics were able to revive Cheryl Knudsen, who made a full recovery and credits her daughter with saving her life.

Lilly Knudsen was one of more than 20 people honored Thursday at a ceremony put on by the Ada County Paramedics to recognize dispatchers, first-responders and citizen bystanders who went the extra mile. Recipients stood to accept their awards as their accomplishments were read aloud.

The awards breakfast was put on as part of EMS Week.

Bystanders Tim Grett and Stacey Stuart were honored for springing into action after a football coach collapsed at practice last September. Stuart called 911 and Grett performed CPR on the unresponsive coach, Randy Berry.

A Boise woman who went into early labor at her home and the 911 dispatcher who coached her through her daughter’s birth were both commended. 911 dispatch operator Janet Mulhern was able to instruct Delaney Barker throughout the delivery.

The baby was blue and not breathing after the delivery, and paramedics had not yet arrived. Following careful instructions from Mulhern, Barker was able to perform infant CPR on the newborn and get her breathing again.

Barker brought her now-6-month-old daughter, Wilhemina, to the ceremony as she accepted the award.

The tradition of EMS Week stretches back to the 1970s, said Darby Weston, director of Ada County Paramedics.

“It’s an opportunity to recognize all the men and women who provide service to our community,” Weston said. “We identify special cases in which someone’s life was saved.”

First-responders commit heroic acts every day, but they can be easy to overlook, he said.

“We’re out of sight, out of mind until you need [us,]” he said.

Weston stressed how someone calling 911 is connected instantly to help. The industry standard for first-responders to arrive within five minutes, he said, and for the sick or injured party to be on their way to a hospital within nine minutes. Ada County Paramedics hits that 90 percent of the time, he said.

“That’s a system that performs at an incredible level,” Weston said. “If you’re going to have an emergency, this is a good place to do it.”

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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