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'Jury duty saved my life': Woman who collapsed at Arapahoe Co. Courthouse thanks first responders

Shirley Bennet collapsed and did not have a pulse outside the courtroom in mid-February
Shirley Bennet
Posted at 4:48 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 18:48:58-05

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Shirley Bennet said she has lots of living to do as she thanked the first responders who saved her life after she collapsed at the Arapahoe County Courthouse in February.

"You guys do this every day, many times a day, for years and years and years," she told the group. "And I probably know there are times that you've saved lives, you helped people, and not a single person said thank you. And I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Woman who collapsed at Arapahoe Co. Courthouse thanks first responders

Bennet, who is 69, was a prospective juror at the Arapahoe County Courthouse in Centennial on Feb. 13. Around 1:30 p.m., as the jurors returned from lunch, she collapsed outside the courtroom.

Arapahoe County Sgt. Robert Chase was the first to reach her and began CPR. Other deputies soon joined him. Bennet did not have a pulse. They used a bag valve on Bennet to help her breathe.

After several cycles of compressions, the deputies found a faint pulse.

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office deputies revive woman at courthouse

South Metro Fire Rescue arrived at the scene about 10 minutes after the deputies started the compressions and took over caring for Bennet. They gave her an IV and inserted a breathing tube, and she began to come around.

The sheriff's office released a video of the incident on YouTube Thursday. Sgt. Chase called the response "seamless teamwork."

The day after Bennet collapsed, two members of her family went to the courthouse to thank the deputies. They relayed that she was still recovering in the hospital, but was expected to survive.

She was released from the hospital in early March.

In front of her rescuers on Thursday, Bennet said that some people try to avoid jury duty, but in this case, it saved her life.

Shirley Bennet

"Because if I had not been a jury duty at that time, when I would have been at home alone — and the outcome could have been totally different," she said.

South Metro Fire Rescue has about 500 cardiac arrest calls a year and only about 10% have a full recovery and walk out of a hospital. That recovery depends on the quick response of people who are at the scene, which included deputies in this case.

J. Apfelbaum, medical director with South Metro Fire Rescue, stressed the importance of learning CPR. It was something that Bennet also spoke to. She took her first CPR class in 1969 and used her skills the very next day when she encountered a woman who had overdosed, she said.

Shirley Bennet

She said she hopes everybody takes a class to learn how to do it.

It could save a life one day.

"I want to speak from my heart to know that you didn't just bless me, bless my family, who's here," Bennet said to the first responders. "You blessed me that I can go on and live and do the things that I need to do."

In total, 19 deputies were involved in saving Bennet's life, including Sgt. Chase, Deputy Sarmad Jumaah, Deputy Marc Herriman, Deputy Michael Gentry, Deputy Landon Desautels, Sgt. Christopher Chernault and Lt. Geoffrey Maisch.

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