CI Hero: 2 Pekin police officers, 3 bystanders credited with saving 17-year-old’s life during sudden cardiac arrest

CI Heroes

PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — A split-second decision left 17-year-old Grace Cooney’s heart beating.

First responders said she collapsed while watching Pekin’s Marigold Festival Parade in early September.

“All I can remember is I sat down,” said Grace Cooney, 17-year-old cardiac arrest survivor. “I don’t really remember anything before that.”

Advanced Medical Transport said Cooney’s sister and two Pekin police officers, Adam Smith and Cory Mitchell, performed CPR while others called for help.

“When people know how to do CPR and start CPR in a very timely or as fast as possible even bystander CPR really increases the chance of survival greatly and allows the things we do to be effective,” said Mark Gilles, Paramedic and Pekin Station Manager for AMT.

AMT said sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of American adults. First responders said performing CPR can change the outcome once medical professionals arrive on the scene.

“It’s surreal to see her after an event like that, especially somebody so young,” said Gilles. “It’s not something we get to do often. Meet someone we’ve helped. So to find out about a good outcome and actually meet them is very rewarding.”

Cooney said she’s thankful for everyone’s quick thinking. She now has a defibrillator implanted in her heart.

“I was happy to be able to see them and thank them and not have been the other way around where I wouldn’t have been able to be here,” said Cooney. “I’m very grateful for them.”

AMT usually offers CPR training at the request of public events or workplaces. But due to COVID-19, all public classes are canceled until further notice.

The other two bystanders were also recognized and given plaques in an event on Thursday, October 7 at AMT Pekin.

Through this submission form, you can nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero.

About Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois
Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) is the premier provider of emergency and scheduled ambulance services in Central and Western Illinois. AMT is a private, not-for-profit organization governed by a community-based board of directors. Our comprehensive team of healthcare professionals combine outstanding healthcare transportation with pre-hospital medical care that answers 70,000 calls each year in communities we serve.

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