JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Ashley Baker never thought she’d have to use her years of CPR training, but on Aug. 27, it paid off in a big way when that knowledge helped her save a friend’s life.
Baker, a seventh-grade teacher and administrative assistant at Bridgeway Christian Academy, was attending a tennis social event on a Saturday afternoon in her Johns Creek neighborhood, on Parsons Road, when her long-time friend went into cardiac arrest.
“He came off the court briefly, and he had been feeling just a little bit dizzy,” said Baker. “But he went back out to play. When I was getting ready to leave, all of a sudden, I heard someone say, ‘call 911.’”
When Baker turned around, she saw that her friend had collapsed on the court and wasn’t moving. She immediately ran to grab the courts’ automated external defibrillator, while other players called emergency services.
“When I got to him, he had very shallow breathing, and he was completely unresponsive. Then his breathing stopped, and his color began to change,” said Baker. “He had no heartbeat.”
Baker’s CPR training, however, kicked in, and she acted. She used the AED to deliver a shock to begin resuscitating her friend. Baker administered CPR while her two friends, Ellen Lark and Allie Ray, assisted and gave updates about the man’s vitals.
“I don’t remember thinking about it, I just remember doing,” said Baker. “It finally hit me the severity of what happened when the EMTs arrived and they took over.”
Baker’s friend came to by the third round of chest compressions and was lucid by the time EMTs arrived.
The entire emergency, Baker said, took place in only 4 to 5 minutes.
The man Baker saved spent three days in the hospital and was released with a clean bill of health.
Baker has undergone CPR training multiple times in her life as both a lifeguard and coach. She continues to refresh her training every two years as part of her school’s requirement for all teachers to be certified.
“Even though I’ve been through CPR training so many times, I never thought in all my life that I’d have to use it. If you had asked me before if I could administer CPR in an emergency situation, I probably would have said no. I would have thought that I would freak out and forget,” Baker said. “But I think because of that training, it was almost automatic.”
This sort of good outcome, Baker said, is rare, since a lot of sites don’t have an AED readily available in case of an emergency.
“It’s not a requirement for the tennis court to have an AED on site, but it should be. I wish that any place where people are very active would have an AED. Without that one there, had he gone down and we had not had an AED, it would have not ended the way it did,” Baker said.
For her heroic actions in saving a man’s life, Baker, along with Lark and Ray, were recognized and honored by the Johns Creek City Council.
Baker said that her friend’s near-death experience has shown her the importance of CPR training and AEDs.
“Now I see, without a shadow of a doubt, that it’s not just a class or a requirement to fill,” Baker said. “It’s absolutely a life-saving measure. You can never know when you will have to use it, but the training prepares you.”