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June 14, 2011

Utah woman thanks dispatcher, paramedics who helped save her life

By Sam Penrod
Deseret Morning News

OREM, Utah — A 26-year-old school teacher, her mother, a 911 dispatcher and Orem paramedics reunited on Monday to share a story about a life saved thanks to quick thinking, teamwork and CPR.

On March 15, Natalie Gurr was treated in an emergency room for a painful kidney stone. She was given pain medication at the hospital and sent home to recuperate. Less than an hour later, her mother, Julie Gurr, was calling 911.

"Just panic and grief all at once, it's something you never want to go through," recalled Julie Gurr. The narcotics had caused Natalie to stop breathing, and she was turning blue. "I knew when Natalie's mother told me that she was not conscious and not breathing and she was blue that it was serious and we immediately started CPR," recalled Cindy McDonald, the Orem 911 dispatcher who took the call and gave CPR instructions over the phone.

It was help Julie Gurr will always be thankful for. "This wonderful dispatcher who I think is an angel, she was very calm and immediately started to give me instructions."

Natalie Gurr is indebted to all of them, including the paramedics who were able to give her medication to restart her breathing.

"I was so glad my mom had enough presence of mind to listen and know what to do and the dispatcher was so calm and helpful to my mom, to tell her, because my mom had never done CPR before," she said.

McDonald was thrilled to hear of the positive outcome. "I was very happy, I was relieved, I was happy Natalie's mother was able to do what she did and we worked well as a team."

The paramedics credit the CPR Natalie received to giving them the chance to revive her. "There are classes out there, available CPR classes, first-aid classes," said Chase Tandy, a paramedic with the Orem Fire Department. "The more you know, the more comfortable you will be in these situations."

And you will soon find Julie Gurr sitting in one of those classes. "I know I'm going to go back, and so I can be more prepared if that should ever happen again," she said.

After a couple of weeks of recovery, Natalie was able to return to her job as a first-grade teacher in Orem. And she is now enjoying summer vacation and spending a lot of time with her mom.

"She saved my life, I wouldn't be here without her," she said.

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