Local heroes honored for saving woman's life

Four OV parents assisted Linda Surface while she had cardiac arrest


October 30, 2019

Brandon Gustafson

Linda Surface with Marsha Ferrara at an event last week at Mukilteo Fire Station 24.

Linda Surface was being a good grandmother the night she almost died.

She was attending her grandson Quinn's curriculum night at Olympic View Middle School with her daughter Tonya Morris on Sept. 24.

As the event came to a close, the trio, like all others there that night, made their way to the parking lot.

That's when Surface stopped moving, called out to her daughter, and collapsed. She was in the midst of cardiac arrest.

As panic set in and Morris called out for help, four medically trained parents on site answered the call for help.

Zegeye Kure was the first to start CPR. Kurt Roberts quickly joined him in alternating compressions. Marsha Ferrara, a cardiac nurse, and Kelly Karl, also a nurse, arrived and did their part.

Other parents helped by using cellphone flashlights to assist however they could and by calling 911, and Olympic View staff were able to locate a defibrillator (AED).

Morris said Ferrara "directed the CPR team" before administering the AED until the Mukilteo Fire Department arrived.

Mike Yoakum, the Mukilteo fire captain on the call, and his team took over with compressions and the AED.

Thanks to the quick response by the parents and Fire Department, Surface is up and running, and last Tuesday, Oct. 22, got to see and thank her heroes at a special celebration at Mukilteo Fire Station 25 in Old Town, which included members of the Fire Department, a few elected officials, Surface's family and the families of the four who saved her life, and other community members and close friends.

"This is a huge opportunity for us in more ways than one," Fire Chief Chris Alexander said. "One, it's the first time we've had the opportunity to recognize life savers ... and two, it's one of the rare instances where we had a very special group of folks get involved in saving a life by administering CPR and using an AED – we don't usually encounter that when (someone's having) cardiac arrest and needs help."

Alexander lauded the group of four for being proactive and taking control of the situation.

"The things they were able to do in the five to six minutes it takes us to get there is the reason we have a very special person with us tonight," Alexander said.

Morris told the crowd about her mom's experience as a cardiac critical care nurse, and how growing up she saw her mom save countless lives.

"That night at Olympic View Middle School started out as one of the most traumatizing moments of our lives, yet it turned into one of the most beautiful moments," Morris said.

Morris said her mother was having a ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest, which has a low survival rate if not treated correctly immediately.

"If she did not have the perfect medical response with immediate CPR, and an AED, on site, she would not be with us today," Morris said. "CPR and AEDs save lives, and I encourage everyone to be CPR certified on a regular basis, and for our businesses, schools, organizations, and churches to invest in an AED."

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Morris turned her attention to the four who courageously stepped up to save her dying mother.

"I witnessed three fellow nurses and a military veteran save my mom's life while our community surrounded her and did their part to turn this fateful night into a true miracle," Morris said. "The community my mom served for decades as a nurse was there for her when she needed them most."

Morris also thanked the Mukilteo Fire Department, the other OV parents who assisted that night, the OV staff, doctors and nurses at Providence Hospital, and her family for helping with Surface's recovery.

Surface hadn't had much of a chance to talk to those who saved her life until she took the mic last week. She got to speak briefly to them before the event started, but that was also the first time she really got to meet them as she was unconscious that night in September.

"This is a great community and I'm so proud to be part of it, and I'm so proud what (the four) did," she said. "I know as a nurse it is difficult to get good outcomes on situations like that. And boy, when you're a determined, feisty Mukilteo little close town, you do it."

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Surface said it was important to her that Kure, Roberts, Ferrara, and Karl were honored in front of the community.

"The team was amazing. They did everything quickly," Surface said. "They quickly did CPR, quickly did all the right things. I've never seen such a good outcome in all my professional years of these situations."

Surface lauded the community as a whole, noting the Fire Department's quick response and care, that other parents who weren't medically equipped to assist still found ways to help, and the Mukilteo Police Department was soon at Morris' house offering rides to anyone who needed it.

"Who lives in a community like that? This is really incredible," she said. "My life goes on because a team of people decided to save a life ... and my cuppeth runneth over with gratitude that words alone cannot express."

Olympic View Middle School Principal Devin McLane said he always knew that he had wonderful staff members and students, who in turn had excellent parents, but that night in September reassured that belief.

"That was a night that really could have gone the wrong way," he said. "And it could have left scars on a number of people, obviously the family being number one, and because of some really special people, those scars were replaced with something that really galvanized the community and brought people together."

McLane said there was a noticeable feeling of pride the next day at school among his staff, as they "felt good about themselves" for helping with saving Surface's life.

"It was a special night, four weeks ago tonight, and it's kind of crazy to think back," he said. "My heart has been racing a little bit here all night hearing the stories and everything, and remembering how I felt that night and we're just so lucky to have you, Linda."

Brian Sullivan, the former mayor of Mukilteo who currently represents the city on the Snohomish County Council, said he's known Surface for most of his life and the two are dear friends. Sullivan said he was at the event representing Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, who issued a proclamation recognizing Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 as Mukilteo Heroes Day in Snohomish County, which Sullivan read aloud for the crowd.

For those interested in getting CPR certified, there are monthly CPR and AED classes at Rosehill Community Center. The next one is Nov. 13 from 5:45 to 8:45 p.m. and the cost is $46. Contact Rosehill for more information.

Author Bio

Brandon Gustafson, Editor, Mukilteo Beacon

Brandon Gustafson was named editor of the Mukilteo Beacon in October, 2017. Born and raised in Mukilteo, Brandon attended Mukilteo Elementary, Olympic View Middle School, and Kamiak High School, graduating in 2013. After high school, Brandon attended Shoreline Community College, earning his associate's degree while playing for the school's baseball team. He then transferred to the University of Washington, where he graduated in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in communications-journalism.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 425-347-5634
Twitter: @MukBeaconBPG


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