On Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 26-year-old Mystle Brown and her 20-month-old daughter, Faith, were in Harper visiting Mystle’s mother, Judy Houston, for the day.
For Faith, it was an ordinary morning of playing and watching Sesame Street. When Faith became sleepy, Mystle took her to a bedroom to rest. After her nap, Faith woke up fussing, so Mystle began to rock her daughter in her arms.
Other than the usual restlessness after the calm of a nap, Faith seemed fine until Mystle felt Faith’s body tense and saw her eyes roll back. Terrified, all Mystle could think was that her daughter was going to die. Mystle placed Faith on the floor to check her airway. Although Faith was still breathing, she had become pale and unresponsive, her gaze drifting to one side. Mystle asked her mother to call 991.
Mystle, a telemetry technician and nurse aide at Hill Country Memorial, continued to watch Faith who seemed to have calmed, but time slowed while she waited for her daughter to improve or help to arrive. When she heard what she thought was an ambulance siren approaching, Mystle picked up Faith and rushed outside to meet them only to feel Faith’s body tense and see her eyes roll back again. Mystle laid Faith down to find that, this time, her daughter’s pulse and breathing had stopped.
Mystle felt the same fear as before, and her mind went blank. Then she heard her mother say, “Stop being a mother and start being a nurse!” That was all it took to send Mystle into action.
She started CPR and continued it for several minutes until she felt a faint pulse. Faith began to revive.
Shortly afterward that happy moment, paramedics arrived. “You do realize you just saved your daughter’s life, right?” one paramedic asked her. “If you hadn’t reacted the way you did, Faith probably wouldn’t be here right now.”
Later, Mystle learned that two febrile seizures, brought on by Faith’s recent bout with a high fever, were what triggered her reactions.
Mystle said she credits Frank Stead and Bruce Daley, the hospital’s emergency management team, who taught her what she needed to know to save her daughter. “You never think you will have to apply work training outside of your job,” she said. “But our work at HCM is more than a job. We gain skills we can use every day. You just never know if you’re going to save someone’s life, and you certainly never think you’re going to save the life of someone you love!”
Thanks to Mystle’s training, Faith is happy and healthy with no lingering symptoms from her close call. Mystle is emphatic that HCM employees are not just at work for 40 hours each week; they are on duty at all times thanks to the knowledge they have gained and which they carry with them. “When we are not at work, we are people who have families that also need care, so care is what we do—always.”
Mystle said believes working at Hill Country Memorial has made her a better person, but she is humble about her act of heroism. She said that the moment she decided to care for her own daughter like a patient, the fear of the situation subsided and the reaction to save a life came naturally to her.
“I know I have found my calling in life, that I was meant to be a nurse,” she said. “But I am most thankful for the training I received from Hill Country Memorial Hospital. After all, it’s the reason I still have Faith.”
CPR classes available–Hill Country Memorial Wellness Center offers American Heart Association Heartsaver® CPR classes one Saturday a month for both health care and non-health care providers. Cost is $50, and certification includes adult, child and infant CPR, as well as AED (automated external defibrillator). The Wellness Center also offers first aid and pediatric first aid classes.