ST. CHARLES – Mary Kate Phillips’ instinct took over.
She arguably saved a life because of it.
Phillips, a recent St. Charles North graduate and standout swimmer, performed live-saving CPR compressions on her young neighbor before police arrived last week.
Brooke Baumann was choking on a bite of pancake during breakfast. Her mother, Kate, initially was not able to dislodge it.
“I needed help,” Kate Baumann recalled to the Chronicle on July 23. “So, I ran across the street...I knew that [Phillips]’ family was home.”
Phillips’ father initially came outside first, still unable to clear the airway performing the Heimlich Maneuver. Phillips then arrived with her CPR kit, and thankfully was able to help clear the airway. It is because of Phillips’ previous training as a part of St. Charles North’s Physical Education Leaders program from her swim coach and teacher, Rob Rooney.
“One thing that he did tell us constantly was to ‘count out loud’ and just focus on what you’re doing,” Phillips said. “...That’s what I did when I started doing compressions. That’s all I did: I just thought about counting, counting out loud and focusing on what I was doing and drowning everything else out.”
Phillips has taught Brooke swim lessons the past four years, and has frequently babysat. “We’re just very close, the two of us,” Phillips said.
“Obviously, we’re extremely grateful that she was able to help because it was a very, very scary situation,” Kate Baumann continued. “And, had she had not been there, [Brooke] might’ve been unable to breathe until paramedics got there, which just seems like an eternity to me.”
Kate Baumann says her daughter has since recovered and is back to 100% health.
Phillips will be attending Ball State University in the fall. As a senior, Phillips took third in the 200 freestyle and fifth in the 500 free at sectionals for the champion North Stars.
Baumann encourages others to explore getting certified in current CPR training.
Current guidelines from the American Red Cross for CPR to children stipulate, after listening for breathing and opening the airway, to deliver two rescue breaths if the victim is not breathing. From there, deliver 30 quick compressions that are approximately two-inches deep into the center of the chest, alternating that process, until medical personnel or an AED arrives.
“In all of our conversations with doctors and medical personnel...just, every time we told the story, they were all just super impressed by the fact that an 18-year-old girl was able to stay composed and be on top of the situation so well,” Baumann continued. “...Really, she just let all of her training take over. And, was able to just handle it like an adult would, like a trained medical professional would.”