Ashley's Telephone CPR Story: "I needed someone to tell me what to do"

Ashley Goette was 39 weeks pregnant when she awoke at 5:00 a.m. to what she thought was her husband snoring, but he was gasping for air and unresponsive. Ashley called 911 and the dispatcher identified Andrew was in cardiac arrest and walked her through CPR until the ambulance arrived. This is where Telephone CPR helped the Goettes go home a family of three.

Andrew & Ashley along with their newborn son

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Almost all cardiac arrests result in a call to 911 for help. With the right training, 911 telecommunicators can talk callers through how to perform CPR while first responders are in route. Immediate bystander CPR can double, even triple chances of survival.

Legislation to promote Telephone CPR in Minnesota, Senate File 1638 and House File 1520, are currently making their way through the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support! Our chief authors are Representative Julie Sandstede (DFL-Hibbing) and Senator Dan Hall (R-Burnsville).

This life-saving legislation would ensure that all 911 operators are trained to coach callers through starting CPR while first responders are on the way or to transfer callers to another 911 call center whose staff can. Recently, AHA Advocate Ashley Goette shared her moving story in a House committee meeting and helped advance the bill. We wanted to share her moving testimony with you. 

Ashley Goette, Lorna Schmidt (MN Government Relations Director) and Rep. Julie Sandstede

"Mr. Chair and members of the committee, my name is Ashley Goette and I am from West Saint Paul. My family has personally experienced the benefits of telephone CPR, and I appreciate the opportunity to share our story with you today.

I was 39 weeks pregnant and sleeping, scheduled to be induced the next day, when I awoke to what I thought was my husband Andrew snoring. I tried to wake him to get him to change position, and I quickly realized something was wrong. Andrew was not responding, and he was gasping for air.

I called 911. Andrew had otherwise been healthy, with no signs or symptoms of anything being wrong. I didn’t know what was happening, and I needed someone to tell me what to do.

The operator identified that Andrew was in cardiac arrest and told me we were going to start CPR. She asked me if I could get Andrew onto the floor, but he was too big for me to move by myself at that point in my pregnancy. Without missing a beat, the operator told me to remove the pillow from beneath Andrew’s head, and she started coaching me through chest compressions right there on the bed. She told me where to put my hands on his chest, to press hard, and helped me keep a beat.

It was 10 minutes before first responders and the ambulance arrived, though it felt a lot longer.

In the following hours, Andrew went through a number of tests and procedures, and I was told to prepare for the worst. I cancelled my appointment to be induced at a different hospital and stayed by his bedside.

Doctors soon discovered that Andrew had been born with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a rare condition in which an extra electrical pathway in the heart causes a rapid heartbeat. By the next day, he was miraculously on his way to making a full recovery, and I was induced into labor, with Andrew in his own hospital bed next to me.

Ours is a story with a happy ending, a family of three going home together to start a new life together. We are so thankful for the doctors and first responders that helped us, including that 911 dispatcher who first helped me until the ambulance arrived. I knew Andrew needed CPR. I had been trained in CPR before, but that was 12 years ago, and in that moment, I needed someone to tell me what to do and reassure me I was doing it right.

At the time, I didn’t realize that not all 911 operators are trained to help people do CPR. Like most people, I assumed this was routine.

I feel lucky that the person who answered my call was able to give me this extra instruction. I can’t imagine what might have happened without it. No one should have to. So I hope you’ll support this bill and help make sure every caller, like me, can get the instructions they need to help a loved one in need."

With your support, we can help make sure everyone who calls 911 is quickly connected to an operator who can provide this life-saving instruction. Please take a moment to take action and let your lawmakers know you support this life-saving legislation!

Lorna Schmidt, Rep. Julie Sandstede, Andrew and Ashley Goette

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