Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:12 AM
OGDEN — Roy sixth-grader C.J. Saulsgiver had a birthday to remember when he performed CPR on his mother after she collapsed with a heart attack Tuesday afternoon.
The 12-year-old Lakeview Elementary School student is being called a hero by local health care officials. If it weren’t for him, they said, his mother probably wouldn’t be alive today.
C.J. had arrived home from school with his friend, Carter Marrieti, and headed to the basement to hang out when he heard his mother, 55-year-old Christine, faintly shout out his name from upstairs.
“She was upstairs cleaning and when I got up there her face was bright purple and her hands were really big,” he said. “Then she collapsed and wasn’t breathing, so I called 911.”
The Weber County dispatcher told C.J. he would have to be walked through CPR, but C.J. said he already knew how to do the lifesaving procedure.
Three months ago, C.J. accompanied his parents to a CPR training course and received certification.
“We were in the process of taking in a foster child and in order to do that you have to have CPR training,” said C.J.’s father, Doc Saulsgiver. “My wife and I were just going to go, but C.J. decided he too probably should go and learn.”
When his mother collapsed, C.J. said he and his friend rolled her onto her back. While Carter held her hand, C.J. started chest compressions and breathing.
“I put the phone on speaker and set it down on the floor while I did CPR on my mom,” C.J. said. “I did four compressions and a breath and she started to breathe. Then I waited a second and she stopped breathing so I did it again and she started to breathe again.”
Roy first responders arrived at the home and administered an EKG which was immediately sent to McKay-Dee Hospital’s emergency room and catheter lab. Then they headed for the hospital.
Christine, who is otherwise in fairly good health, suffered a “global” heart attack, meaning the coronary vessels were completely blocked, starving her heart of oxygen.
“A good outcome from that type of heart attack is very rare,” said Roy City Fire Chief, Jason Poulsen. “C.J. is a true hero. He did a great job of keeping his mother alive while help was on the way. If it weren’t for him, his mother probably would not be alive.”
From her room at McKay-Dee Hospital on Friday, Christine said she has no memory of what happened. While she’s been fairly healthy, she said she does have high cholesterol and is a smoker. Her father also died of a heart attack at the age of 36.
“I haven’t had a cigarette in four days and I haven’t even wanted one nor craved one,” she said. “I’m very proud of C.J. in so many ways. He’s very mature for his age and he means the world to me.”
Poulsen presented C.J. with a Roy firefighter badge, T-shirt and plaque for his heroic efforts. Poulsen also said he was going to hold a birthday party at the fire station for him.C.J.’s father said he is proud of his son in many ways, but there are no words to express how grateful he is for his lifesaving efforts.
“To keep his mother alive while keeping it together emotionally, it’s just amazing,” he said. “Because of what he did she is still alive and with us today.”
Poulsen said everyone involved is to be applauded, from C.J. and the dispatcher to the police and fire departments’ hospital personnel.
“The system worked beautifully,” he said. “And this just goes to show you that you can’t put a price on public education. If we all did what C.J. did for his mother we would have a higher success rate. She is ultimately alive because of him.”
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