Huntersville woman an accidental Christmas angel to neighbor
by Staff Writer
For Amy Auten, timing was everything on Dec. 23 when her neighbor Jack Karriker had a heart attack.
That afternoon, Auten was delivering her annual Christmas pies to her neighbors and had just arrived at Karriker’s home — her neighbor of 27 years who has lived alone since his wife’s death a year ago — when he was walking across his yard to feed his dogs and dropped from a heart attack.
Auten arrived as Karriker’s niece was leaving, and promptly dialed 911 and began performing CPR.
While Auten’s husband, Mark, is the Fire Marshall for Mecklenburg County and her son, Kevin, is a certified EMT and firefighter in training, Auten herself hadn’t had a CPR course in 16 years when the Red Cross offered the training through her work.
“I’ve since convinced the corporate office they need to do a CPR training course again,” Auten said.
While Auten hadn’t had CPR training in years, she knew if she waited for firefighters to arrive it would’ve been too late.
“I just did what I knew how to do and thought ‘as soon as they get here, it’ll be OK,’” Auten said, referring to the firefighters. “I was just tying to buy a little time until they could get there.”
Three minutes after dialing 911, Huntersvile Fire Station No. 2 arrived on the scene along with Auten’s husband and son who took over CPR. When the full crew arrived, Karriker was hooked up to the Automated External Defibrillator to get his heart pumping again.
Once his heart was beating again, firefighters continued to assist Karriker’s breathing and monitored his vital signs until the EMS medics arrived, transporting Karriker to Huntersville Presbyterian, where he stayed for a short time before being transferred to Presbyterian Main for a heart catheterization.
On Dec. 26, Karriker regained consciousness and was able to speak to his family. Auten has also spoken to and visited Karriker while he’s been in the hospital and said he continues to improve every day, though, in the next few days he could receive a pacemaker.
Auten said had she delivered her pies earlier in the month, like she normally does, or had she continued driving to another neighbor’s house as she planned to do since she’d seen Karriker had company, she never would’ve been there to help.
“The stars were aligned,” Mark Auten said.
Auten said this experience taught her that CPR is a vital tool for anyone, and that one of the most important things during an emergency like this, is communicating with the 911 dispatchers.
“It’s obvious to you what you’re seeing and experiencing, but you have to give them the details so they can help and dispatch appropriately and promptly,” Auten said.
Auten said the whole event was an emotional one for everyone on the scene, as Karriker had been like another grandfather to Auten’s two sons, and almost everyone with Huntersville Station No. 2 knew Karriker personally.
“From the fire department stand point, I’m glad we can be so close to them and that they have the staff they need to respond quickly when they can make a difference,” Mark Auten said.
“And sometimes it’s good to have nosey neighbors,” Auten added.