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When Summer Haskins' heart stopped, a 911 dispatcher, firefighters and her husband helped save her life

Karen Kucher, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

SAN DIEGO -- Summer Haskins remembers opening the front door as her husband carried a pizza inside. Then she collapsed. The next thing she remembers was waking up in the hospital days later.

Kristopher Haskins immediately called 911. His wife, then 38 years old, was unconscious, barely breathing and turning purple. Dispatcher Juliana Rubio told him how to start CPR.

"Keep on doing it, keep on doing it. One, two. One, two. It should be hard work," Rubio said during the recorded call. "If you're doing it hard, you're doing it effectively."

On Wednesday, the couple went to Fire Station 21 in Pacific Beach to thank the dispatcher and firefighters who helped restart her heart after her sudden cardiac arrest in May 2022.

Rubio, who has been a dispatcher for 36 years, said it was only the second time a patient has sought her out. The other was a new mother who brought her a bottle of wine after she helped with the baby's delivery.

Rubio frequently instructs callers how to give CPR — as many as a dozen times a shift. She doesn't remember all the calls, but she did remember that one.

 

Because that day, all the stars aligned. "It was just serendipity," she said.

Rubio initially dispatched a crew from Bay Park — but then, she saw the much-closer Pacific Beach engine being released from a call and sent it instead. Within minutes, the crew was at the Navy housing where the Haskinses lived.

Rubio said it was also lucky that Haskins' medical emergency happened in front of her husband, not when she was out somewhere or alone. That meant Kristopher was able to start CPR immediately after calling 911.

He said he learned CPR in the Navy, and that training kicked in once Rubio gave him instructions.

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©2024 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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