When she learned the fundamentals of CPR, Pyper Smith never imagined how important the skill would play in one of the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
Smith, a sixth-grader at Lance Middle School, found herself putting her knowledge into motion as she saved her mother’s life during a medical emergency last fall.
Thursday morning, Smith was recognized for her act during a special program at the school.
More than a half-dozen emergency responders — including police, paramedics, the dispatcher who took the call and hospital staffers — were on hand to discuss just how important Smith’s acts were.
“This all started with Pyper,” Jeff Flasch, an EMS liaison with Froedtert South, said to her classmates. “Her mom would not have survived.”
On Oct. 15, Pyper’s mother Lisa Schroeder went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing at their home. Remembering her training, Pyper called 911 and began CPR while coached by dispatcher Julie Siemion.
When emergency responders arrived, they took over, continuing CPR and other life-saving measures until Schroeder was revived.
The dispatcher who took Smith’s distress call also played a key role in those first critical moments, Flasch said.
“When the entire chain of events started, Pyper called 911,” Flasch said. “We listened to the phone conversation, and it was touching. It would have made the hair on your neck stand up.”
Smith received a certificate in recognition for her actions. The gesture left the middle-schooler visibly moved by the accolades she received from the emergency responders — and her classmates, some of whom asked questions about CPR after the recognition event.
When asked what CPR means to her in the aftermath of last fall’s pivotal, unforgettable moment, Smith said she encouraged everyone to learn the technique.
“If there is a situation, it will be important,” she said. “You just never know.”
Ben Feinzimer, Kenosha County EMS medical director, said Smith’s actions were akin to those of a superhero.
“If you don’t know how to do CPR — it’s hard,” said Feinzimer, who revealed to the class Smith was the one being recognized for her acts. “Pyper had to do one of the most nerve-wracking things ... under the most stressful situation.”
Terri Harold, director of emergency services at Froedtert South, shared with the class just how important Smith’s use of CPR was in the situation.
“Her heart was again beating when she arrived at the emergency room,” Harold said of Smith’s mom.
During a question-and-answer period, Feinzimer shared the importance training plays for emergency responders in critical situations where emotions are running at all-time highs — and understandably so.
“We go through so much training,” Feinzimer said. “When it happens, you just go into auto-pilot. You make your body do what it has to do.”