Ball State Swimmer Mary Kate Phillips Saves 8-year-old Neighbor with CPR

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Mary Kate Phillips and Brooke Baumann. Photo Courtesy: Mary Kate Phillips

Mary Kate Phillips had just seconds to react.

A neighbor across the street was choking and her mom was screaming for help.

Phillips sprung into action. While another neighbor called 911, the Ball State freshman swimmer grabbed her CPR kit and rushed to the aid of 8-year-old Brooke Baumann, who was choking on a piece of pancake from her breakfast.

“Brooke was in her house and started choking on her breakfast (piece of pancake). Her mom tried the Heimlich. She came out and yelled for help. My other neighbor called 911,” Mary Kate Phillips told Swimming World about her July 17 morning.

Phillips started what she learned in CPR training at St. Charles North High School in Illinois. Though just 18, Phillips reacted like a veteran lifeguard and was able to save her neighbor’s life.

“I had my CPR mask and kit. When I got there, she stopped breathing. I had to do two rounds of 30 compressions and two breaths,” she said. “After the second round, she started breathing and that is the same time the ambulance showed up. The doctor said they think the CPR dislodged it and pushed it down, but they are not completely sure.”

It was only a matter of a little more than a minute, but it was life-changing.

Phillips did her best to focus on the task at hand, rather than process the magnitude of the situation with a girl she had babysat for and taught swimming lessons.

“I don’t think it processed too much. I am very close to Brooke. I taught her swimming lessons and babysat for her, and our families are very close. I didn’t process it until after, but this definitely has strengthened our bond a little bit,” Phillips said. “You just have to think about exactly what you are doing, which is why you count out loud. It keeps you focused. It was pretty traumatic after that.”

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Photo Courtesy: Mary Kate Phillips

But in the moment, it wasn’t as traumatic as she expected, mostly because the Illinois state qualifier in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events had been trained.

“At our school, we have a program at our school and you go through leadership training, lifeguard training and CPR as a junior. As a senior you help the program and lifeguard for it,” she said. “Something came over me and I just focused on what I needed to do.

Phillips said she would like incident to show people the importance of learning CPR and being able to stay calm in traumatic situations.

“I hope that other people use this to be inspired to be CPR certified. Knowing to do in a situation like that is very important,” Mary Kate Phillips said. “You never think you will have to use it, but you never know what is going to happen.”

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