The Logeman family has much to be grateful for after their 10th grade daughter, Catherine, survived a cardiac arrest at the beginning of the school year thanks to life-saving CPR instructions provided by first responders over the telephone. The family hopes their experience will encourage others to learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR.
Parents Jennifer and Scott Logeman were both out-of-town on Aug. 17, 2018. Jennifer was visiting their son Connor at his college in South Carolina and Scott was with younger daughter Claire in San Antonio for a tennis match.
Meanwhile, 15-year-old Catherine was at their Steiner Ranch home with grandparents “Mimi” and “Papa,” and at 9:30 p.m. was enjoying a snack after a long day out on Lake Travis with friends.
Catherine was on the phone with mom Jennifer when Catherine suddenly felt dizzy and collapsed. Jennifer heard Mimi scream before the call was disconnected and assumed something was wrong with Papa. Unable to reach anyone on the phone, she finally connected to the family’s Amazon Alexa, which allowed her to hear everything happening in her living room.
“I could hear my mom screaming, and that’s how I realized it was Catherine,” said Jennifer.
Catherine’s only heart health issue prior to that day was a history of irregular heartbeats, which doctors were aware of and were monitoring but has assured the family were harmless.
Despite those reassurances, Catherine was now experiencing full cardiac arrest — meaning her heart had stopped beating — causing her body to shut down. In addition, because she had been eating at the time, Catherine aspirated food into her lungs.
Most crucially that night, Catherine’s grandparents immediately called 911, and 911 operators talked Papa through step-by-step instructions to perform CPR. He did so for a full five minutes until LTFR first responders arrived, followed by Austin-Travis County EMS, Travis County Sheriff’s officers and STAR Flight.
An officer talked Jennifer and Scott through the events unfolding at their house and offered some comfort to the terrified parents.
“He was very kind and talked to me and my husband because of course we weren’t in the same place,” explained Jennifer. “He just let me know that everyone was doing their very best… He told me, everybody here has a child, and they are going to do whatever they can. In that moment, I knew that the right people were there.”
It took STAR Flight nurses an hour to stabilize Catherine, after which she was helicoptered to Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.
Her father, Scott, and sister, Claire, arrived at Dell just as Catherine’s STAR Flight was landing. Scott spent that first night by his daughter’s side.
“She doesn’t remember, but I was holding her hand the whole time and was in a chair and leaning on her and praying for her,” he said.
“Seeing someone you love in that position is something no one should have to experience,” added Claire.
Jennifer remembers arriving first thing the next morning with Connor.
“When I walked in from the airport, she was already in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) and there were probably 10 doctors outside… and I looked at Scott… and he said, ‘That’s how it is all the time.’”
It only took two days before Catherine performed what her neurologist called “purposeful movement,” when she reached up as if to pull out her breathing tube, Jennifer said, “we were celebrating that for sure.”
More test followed within a few days, and, miraculously, Catherine showed no signs of brain or organ damage.
“I know how miraculous it was,” said Jennifer, “because every doctor and nurse came back to see her… They said, we’re amazed you made it, we didn’t think you’d walk out of here and be talking and be totally normal.”
“The people at Dell Children’s are amazing,” Jennifer added. “Every person we came in contact with was just so talented and so personable and so caring, and they cared for the whole family, not just Catherine.”
Doctors implanted a pacemaker/defibrillator in Catherine’s chest, and after four weeks in the PICU and rehab, Catherine once again regained her memory and all physical functions. She returned to school, to volleyball, to homework and to “normal” life.
Jennifer admits that it was hard to drop her daughter off at school that first day back — “We do worry a lot” — but knows that Catherine had learned through her recovery to read her body’s signals and to respect its limits.
“I kind of want to just live my teenager life,” said Catherine. “Hopefully in a little while we can just, you know, live life normally.”
Turning gratitude into action
As they adjust to their new normal, the family has been left with an abundance of gratitude that they hope to translate into action that can benefit others.
“I’m just really thankful for all the first responders because obviously I wouldn’t be here without them,” said Catherine, now a healthy 16-year-old.
“And I’m just thankful for our community and all of our neighbors and all my friends… It was just really good to know that everyone had my back and was there to support me. Everyone was praying for me. So that was kind of powerful,” Catherine said.
Jennifer added that from day one, their neighbors and the Steiner community stepped up to support the family.
“Everybody was out here. People were praying out front. There were people offering to help my parents. People came in to help clean up, people took our dogs right away. People brought food that very first day. We had food continuously at the hospital,” Jennifer said.
Scott is still blown away by the love they were shown. “I think the entire community was raising (Catherine) up through prayer.”
Hoping to piece together a clearer picture of the night of their daughter’s cardiac arrest and to thank those who helped to save Catherine’s life, the family subsequently met with LTFR fire fighters.
Scott explained that the family wanted to know, “What can we do to help give back? We talked to Lake Travis Fire Rescue, we’ve talked a lot of people, they all reiterate that the moments that matter the most are the seconds and the minutes after something like that happens.”
The Logeman’s had thought a lot about their lack of CPR training and had heard the same from many neighbors.
“And so we made that commitment that we were going to figure out a way to get people trained,” explained Jennifer. LTFR told the family about their TAKE10 compression-only training. “So it just seemed like the perfect fit since they were a part of all of this anyway, that we could work on this together.”
Jennifer emphasized that, “Our hope is just to touch as many people as we can. It’s not like a full, four-hour certification, but it’s what you need to know.”
They all agree that if just one person learns CPR and uses it to save just one life, “then we’ve done something,” said Catherine.