Redmond police officer Maureen Messmer graduated from the police academy on Jan. 14.
Less than a week later, she had to call upon her newly acquired knowledge to save a life — a very near and dear one.
Off duty on Jan. 20, Messmer had just walked into her parents’ home to find her mother in a panic because her father was unconscious. The new officer’s training immediately kicked in as she called 911, which she had learned some people forget to do in an emergency situation.
“I have to call 911 first,” Messmer said, referring to her initial thought.
She had received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in the academy, but wanting to get it right, she told the 911 dispatcher she didn’t have CPR training so the dispatcher could walk her through the procedure. Messmer’s father, 62-year-old Michael Messmer, had not regained a pulse and showed no signs of life, but Maureen continued performing chest compressions while her mother Dana Messmer flagged down paramedics.
“I was crying the whole time,” Maureen said. “It was terrifying.”
David Hurnblad and Jim Whitney with the Redmond Fire Department were the medics who responded to the call. Hurnblad said at first, things were looking grim, but Maureen’s efforts bought medics some time and ultimately saved Michael’s life. Hurnblad added that this was the first time medics had worked on someone whose relative had successfully administered first aid.
On Thursday at the Redmond Public Safety Building, Hunblad and Whitney officially met the Messmers for the first time, an occasion Whitney described as a “happy moment for everyone.”
Both Michael and Maureen were extremely appreciative, repeatedly thanking the medics for the work they had done.
“I’m just so grateful,” Maureen said. “I don’t even want to know what would happen if (my father) wasn’t in my life.”
Maureen said she is also grateful for the support she has received from the Redmond Police Department (RPD), both in the time off she received while taking care of her father and the well wishes she received from colleagues.
While Michael is thankful for the medics’ efforts, he is especially thankful for Maureen’s. He was unconscious during the event and for a few days following and didn’t learn about his daughter’s efforts until he woke up in the hospital days later after being in a state of induced hypothermia to give his brain time to heal slowly before returning to its normal functioning capacity.
“I’m just totally amazed,” Michael said. “I was gone, sitting up on the bed, dead…(I’m) humbled as anybody can be to have your own child to save your life.”
The Redmond Fire Department (RFD) work hard to teach all city employees CPR and Mike Hilley, who was Hurnblad and Whitney’s supervisor on Jan. 20, said Messmer’s story is the prime example of why. He said they teach the hands-only method, which eliminates the mouth-to-mouth and counting portions of CPR and consists only of chest compressions. Hilley said the compressions keep blood flowing through the body and helps keep the brain oxygenated, decreasing the chance of brain damage — just as Maureen’s compressions have allowed her father not only to live, but to resume his usual activities.
“We put this man back to work,” Hilley said. “That’s who we measure our success.”
Hilley said they want to expand the hands-only CPR knowledge to citizens and have Redmond be a “CPR city.” Citizens can call the fire department at (425) 556-2233 to set up a training session.
After having time to reflect upon the event, Maureen, who also serves in the Washington Army National Guard, said administering CPR on her father has given her more confidence to do her job as a first responder. She said having this experience under her belt has also given her insight into what the families of people in similar situations as her father are experiencing.
“You can’t teach how it’s going to feel,” she said. “I feel more confident that I’ll be able to handle a situation like this.”