By Jenn Bernstein
NEW CASTLE, Del. (CBS) – Twenty-year-old Grace Firestone says she doesn’t remember much about the night that changed her life.
“I went into my mom’s room and said, ‘I don’t feel so good,’ and then just collapsed,” recalled Firestone.
Grace’s heart stopped–she was in cardiac arrest. Her family immediately called 911, while her brother started CPR.
A team of New Castle County Emergency Responders raced to her home.
Paramedic Elizabeth Alderson was one of them.
“Most of the people in cardiac arrest are older and have heart problems. So coming across a teenager, it makes you work twice as hard, because you really have no idea what could be causing it,” said Alderson.
As the paramedics did everything they could to save Firestone’s life, she was transported to the hospital.
Eventually, Firestone made a full recovery.
Two years later, she finally got to thank them at the first annual Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor’s Reunion held by the New Castle County Paramedics.
First responders, firefighters and police were honored for their life saving work.
“How do you thank someone for saving your life? I don’t know, I just want to say, ‘I love you! Thank you!’” explained Firestone.
This reunion comes during American Heart Month and highlights the importance of early intervention.
“Time is critical, for every minute that passes after a heart stops beating, there’s a 10 percent less chance of actually reviving the patient,” said New Castle County Paramedics Chief Lawrence Tan.
Firestone is now a sophomore at the University of Delaware. She plays club soccer and recently, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for a non-profit she started.
“It’s just an overwhelming feeling, considering seeing her that day,” said Alderson. “I’d much rather see her like this than how we met her.”
For heart healthy tips, visit: www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth