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An opportunity to say thanks: Lakewood teen meets with West Metro paramedics who saved her life

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By Deborah Swearingen

Shannon Knight shouldn’t have been home that day, and she certainly didn’t consider it lucky when she hurt herself at work and was sent home on concussion watch.

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But, in a way, she was. Because of this, she was home on the morning of July 18 when her 17-year-old daughter, Taylor Knight, went into cardiac arrest.

On Sept. 11 — two months and a lot of recovery later — Taylor, now a Lakewood High School senior, visited West Metro Fire Rescue Station 8 to meet the paramedics who saved her life.

What happened

After arriving home early from work in July, Shannon rested on the couch, waiting for her mom, Nancy Bybee, to get there. Right before her mom walked in the door, Shannon heard a strange noise. She asked her mom to check it out and to wake up Taylor in the process. The 17-year-old was on summer break, and Shannon worried she had hit the snooze button one too many times.

“Even when I have no oxygen, I can still turn my alarm off,” Taylor said, laughing.

When she got to Taylor’s room, Nancy found her unresponsive. Though they didn’t know it at the time, Taylor was experiencing ventricular fibrillation, a life-threatening heart rhythm where the heart beats inefficiently. With 200,000 or fewer cases in the United States each year, it’s considered rare.

Bybee called 911, and Shannon hurried to start CPR. Her quick action and the speedy response from West Metro made all the difference.

“We are so grateful for them,” Bybee said.

A rare opportunity

Taylor has now returned to her happy, healthy self, and she walked into Station 8 last week with her mom, grandparents and a plate of cookies in tow. She shook each of the paramedics’ hands and stood alongside them, chatting and laughing for several minutes.

Meeting those they’ve helped isn’t a frequent occurrence for West Metro paramedics and firefighters.

“The few we get to (meet) makes it worthwhile for all the ones we don’t,” said Mike Simons, a firefighter engineer with West Metro who was part of the team that helped Taylor.

Paramedic Dave Dame agreed, saying the call is one he won’t soon forget.

“This kind of thing happens, but it doesn’t really happen to 17-year-olds,” he said. “ … It’s a rarity.”

A lesson learned

The entire experience has been eye-opening for Taylor, and it’s caused her to re-evaluate some of her choices in life.

“I think this has taught me to take more time for myself, kind of experience the world,” she said.

Taylor’s plans for the future remain the same. She wants to attend a college in California and study literature.

However, she’s not the only one who learned something from the incident. Pam Feely, West Metro board president and family friend, stopped by the fire station last week to share in the moment.

“It goes to show we need to take every day and live it to the fullest,” Feely said. “Being alive is a miracle.”

Taylor concurred. Her life is mostly back to normal. And of all the restrictions placed on her in recovery, Taylor is mostly just excited to jump on her trampoline again.