LENOIR CITY, Tenn. — June 29, 2018 was a celebration of faith for one of Morgan Newman's friends.
We were having a Baptism party at my friend's house and after the baptism, we decided to jump in the pool. I felt a little bit light-headed when I was in the pool and so I went under the water to try to refresh myself and I don't remember anything after that," Morgan Newman, 17, said.
Her parents had stepped away from the pool and heard friends desperately calling for them.
"We ran up to the pool area and when we got up there we saw them. They had just pulled her out of the pool. She was blue and unconscious and they were beginning CPR," Mandy Newman said.
Their friend and pastor, Jeff Hundley, led the effort.
"Jeff is actually a CPR instructor so he was definitely in the right place at the right time," she said.
Meanwhile, professional help was on the way.
"We had a call that came out for a possible drowning with CPR in progress," Travis Estes recalled.
He is the Priority Ambulance Loudon County EMS Director. He said his team hurried to help. He was nearby and went in his response vehicle. Even an off-duty paramedic headed to the pool where they were able to get her heart beating again with more CPR and a defibrillator.
"We're here about the patients and we are very committed to doing that and I think it shows in the staff that we have with their commitment with showing up off duty and after hours," he said.
The Children's Emergency Care Alliance presented the Star of Life Award to the Priority Ambulance of Loudon County. But they don't do what they do for awards.
"The greatest gift to us is being able to see Morgan and her family and to be able to hug them and talk to them. That's the most important part to us," he said.
"We don't have words for how we feel about that," Morgan's mother Mandy said.
Mandy and Mike Newman have become advocates.
"Everybody needs to know CPR because you never know what situation you're going to find yourself in. In our case, Morgan can swim. I wasn't worried about her drowning because she couldn't swim. Anyone can go into cardiac arrest and it can affect anybody at any time," Mandy said.
Mike said, "Hopefully you never have to use it. But hopefully, if you have to use it you're ready for it and can save somebody's life."
This time that somebody was Morgan.
"It's extremely important to get that done early, get that blood moving, get that oxygen going which in her case was immediate for her. Then she had advanced providers, ALS (advanced life support) care, within 10 minutes," Travis Estes said.
Morgan said, "I am extremely grateful for everyone who was a first responder or all of my friends who were praying or did CPR on me. I am so incredibly thankful. Thank you isn't even enough to say to them. They saved my life and I will be grateful for that forever."
CPR classes are easy to find. Click here for the American Heart Association search tool to locate a class near you.