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How being at the airport saved a Grand Rapids woman's life

Amy Gerard was on the way back from a family trip to Florida with her sister and niece when her life changed forever.

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. — As Amy Gerard looks out the window, she's less than enthused to see a grey sky. It makes her long for the beaches of Florida. Fortunately for her, that's exactly what she's here to talk about. Kind of.

Back in February 2020, Amy was on the beach with her sister and her niece.

"We were having a Galentine's trip in Florida and we were relaxing and it was stress-free," she said.

That sense of calm didn't last. On the way home, everything changed at the airport.

"We were waiting to board," said Amy's sister Kelly Joseph.

"And she just kind of snorted. It felt like she was having a seizure or something, and I knew something was wrong."

Kelly wasn't the only one who took notice. Several people in the terminal, including a nurse saw what was going on, and they sprang into action right away. Amy wasn't having a seizure. She had gone into cardiac arrest.

"It was thanks to some good Samaritans that came and knew what was wrong. They took her pulse and started CPR. Someone called for the AED and they used the AED and then first responders got there," Kelly said.

Amy spent some time in the hospital in an induced coma. Today, she is healthy, but it's still a mystery why she went into cardiac arrest in the first place. She had no underlying health conditions that would've caused it that doctors are aware of.

"I'm really grateful to be here today. I know that if the right people were not in the right place, who knew CPR, I might not be here. So my sister and my niece could have seen me die right there," Amy said.

February is American Heart Month, and on the three-year anniversary of her emergency, Amy will be attending the 2023 Grand Rapids Go Red for Women Luncheon. It happens at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 16 at Watermark Country Club, which is located at 1600 Galbraith Avenue SE in Grand Rapids.

The luncheon will focus on CPR education and activities will include health screenings and preventative health education.

Amy hopes by sharing her story, more people will be inspired to learn CPR.

"You could save a mom, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a loved one, a daughter. You really can save someone their life. It's a really big deal," she said.

"I would never wish this on anyone, but I hope that by me going through all this, someone can learn from it, and someone will be saved. I feel like it's my job now to be grateful and speak out."

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