Family gives ultimate assist to save a life

When Gail Baker’s husband suddenly collapsed at their Auburn-area home, she instinctively knew what to do.

When Gail Baker’s husband suddenly collapsed at their Auburn-area home, she instinctively knew what to do.

It was a good thing. Her quick-thinking actions and her CPR training saved a life.

“It automatically kicked in,” said Gail, who was assisted by her son, Chris, and his friend, Derek Paller, in the rescue efforts. “You just don’t think, you just do it.”

More than a year has passed since the episode, but Jeff Baker – a 53-year-old structural engineer – is doing just fine. And while he didn’t suffer a heart attack, Jeff was diagnosed with ventricular fibrillation, a serious and often lethal condition. Doctors implanted a defibrillator in his chest, and he has been doing well ever since.

Jeff and his family indeed feel fortunate.

“I basically died,” Jeff said. “I woke up and found that these three wonderful people saved me. All their training worked, and they should be really proud of themselves.”

For their actions, Gail, Chris and Paller were honored Thursday by the regional American Red Cross at the 12th annual Heroes Breakfast – “Everyday People, Everyday Heroes.” The event, held at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, presented the trio with the Family Rescue award. Twelve other “heroes” were recognized as well.

Gail was taken aback by the honor.

“I was extremely surprised because I don’t feel like a hero,” she said. “I just love him. It was just a natural thing to do.”

On March 25, 2007, Jeff went upstairs to tell Gail that dinner was ready. She was working on a project and said that she would be down for supper soon. As Jeff was leaving, he turned and gave her a kiss, took three steps and went face down onto the hardwood floor.

Gail yelled to her family downstairs for help and immediately began CPR on Jeff, who was convulsing and turning blue. Gail instructed her mother-in-law to call 911, and asked Chris, who also was trained in CPR, to help her with chest compressions and rescue breathing. Paller also assisted.

In six minutes, paramedics arrived. They twice jolted


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