In Aug. 5 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
When Allison Best awoke on the morning of July 25, she never envisioned the panic, adrenaline and fear that would test her and her family for the next 72 hours. That was the day she nearly lost five-year-old Mia, her youngest child.
But this story is different, thanks to a fortunate series of events, including CPR from a Treviicos-Soletanche JV worker named Bertrand Capelle, prayers were answered and Mia miraculously began Kindergarten at Jamestown Elementary earlier this week.
On that Sunday morning, just after 10 a.m., Allison noticed that Mia needed to use her inhaler and couldn't catch her breath. Little Mia even knew herself that something was terribly wrong. In the ensuing moments Allison took her daughter to their vehicle and headed from their Jamestown home toward the Russell County Hospital.
"You're assuming it is the typical asthma attack or allergic reaction," Allison said of her first thought. "But when I set her in the van she just slid down to the floorboard and that was probably a total of a minute after she asked for her inhaler."
After calling 911, Allison began the drive, making it only to the Jamestown Bypass on US 127 before abruptly pulling the vehicle to the side of the road. Mia was not breathing.
"They were telling me to do CPR," she said of the 911 official over the phone. "In your head you're doing what they're telling you to do."
At this point, Mia remained in the vehicle as a panicked Allison began the process of CPR.
Then, out of nowhere, Capelle reached into the vehicle, took Mia, and placed her on the pavement, resting her head as best he could on the hard surface.
"I took (Mia) and there was no circulation," he said. That is when he knew something was terribly wrong.
"I never saw his face," Allsion said of Capelle. "I just heard his voice … he was doing the compressions and telling me what to do," Allison said. "He was just telling me to blow air."
Capelle, who was heading to the grocery to buy bread, just happened to see the event unfold, slowed down and then stopped to help.
A tall and slender French-speaking man from a small town 50 miles from Paris, France,
Capelle has been in Jamestown for several months helping with the rehabilitation work on Wolf Creek Dam. His wife, daughter, and son have been with him also.
For several heart-wrenching moments, Capelle and Allison performed CPR together, a first aid maneuver he first learned after graduating college in France nearly 20 years ago. Working in the engineering field on big projects where accidents can and do happen, learning CPR was a must.
Minutes later, Russell County EMS personnel Brad Loy, Eric Wardell, Josh Kerr and Johnny Whitis arrived, loaded Mia up in the ambulance and took her to the local hospital.
There she was initially seen by Dr. Shane Rice before being flown to the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
"I never asked whether she was going to be okay because I was too afraid to," Allison said.
She then rode with her stepmother to Lexington, an unknowing two-hour drive where she expected the worse news a parent could hear.
"Texting more than one person at a time helped keep me sane," she said about the drive to UK. "I knew by the way she looked that I didn't know if it would have a good outcome."
Mia's lips, limbs and face had already turned blue by the time Capelle had commenced with CPR and the situation remained unnerving.
"You don't want to think it but I thought of how the outcome could be," she said. "It was unreal."
With it being Sunday morning, word of Mia's incident spread quickly through local churches via text messaging and many churches stopped service to have special prayer for her.
"There is not a doubt in my mind that that is the only way she is with us today," Allison said.
"When we finally got to UK they let me go into the ER with her … she had a breathing tube in and was just laying there; they kept asking if I had any idea what she could have had a reaction to, and I didn't."
After several hours, they let Allison back to intensive care to see her when the doctors got her stabilized.
"She had tubes everywhere, six IV's plus the breathing tube," she said. "It is what you would see in movies, I guess, with her just laying there."
Around 2 a.m. Monday Mia awoke and began looking around. Allison said this scared her but the nurse in the PICU told her she hoped they were tears of joy because that was a great sign and that Mia was fighting against the sedation.
On Monday morning, doctors performed an EEG and an echocardiogram to check for damage because they weren't sure how long she had been without oxygen and that afternoon Mia began waking up again, so they removed the breathing tube.
Allison's husband, Steve, had been in Alabama for military training and had arrived in Lexington Monday morning after rushing back to be by his daughter's side.
"When they let Steve and I back in her room she yelled and said she wanted some orange juice and Oreos," Allison said. "The doctor heard that and said he didn't need to wait for the test results and that she was going to be fine."
After another night's stay in intensive care, Tuesday saw even more progress. On their way to their regular hospital room, Steve, Allison and Mia ran into the doctor that was working when she came in on Sunday.
"Princess Mia, you are such a lucky girl, I just want you to know that now you have two birthdays," the doctor told her.
On Wednesday, three days after the incident, Mia was well enough to come home and a community breathed a collective sigh of relief.
This past Saturday, the Best family held a "thank you" get together for Bertrand Capelle and his family at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church.
There, Steve, Allison, and Mia along with other family and friends got to formally meet Capelle for the first time, hear his story and presented him with a plaque for his heroism.
"I will never forget you as long as I live," Allison told Capelle. "I never saw your face but I heard your voice tell me how to help my baby. Without your help, I don't know what would have happened. You are Mia's angel … God put you there to save Mia's life."
"We need more people to learn CPR," Capelle said, using his best English. Treviicos-Soletanche JV demands that all their workers know the maneuver and will be having additional trainings in the coming days on how to correctly perform CPR.
Capelle said he had nightmares about Sunday for several nights and said kept seeing Mia's face as he saw it on that dreaded morning.
"I thought she might have died," he said.
Not knowing for days whether or not Mia made it, word got to him early last week that she had pulled through, thanks to his selfless compassion and willingness to help a stranger in need.
Now, he said he could see Mia's face as it is now.
"And I want to see it again in 20 years when she is a young woman," he said with a smile.
"Now I can go home."
Capelle and his family leave for France later this week.
Allison, Steve and the entire Best family wish to send out a big "thank you" to every one for their prayers and concern over that four-day span. It is not known yet what caused Mia's reaction but upcoming allergy doctor visits hope to further explain what went wrong.
"I have received hundreds of texts from people saying they were praying for her," Allison said.
Thanks to those prayers and Capelle's knowledge of CPR, Mia Best is still among us and growing into the person she is meant to be.