A Missouri woman had a lunch date to remember when she used her life-saving CPR skills to come to her date’s rescue.
Janie Hall, 45, of Joplin, was full of excitement when she arrived at the Cheesecake Factory in Kansas City on April 7 to meet her date for the first time after a couple weeks of chatting. The duo hit it off after they met on the dating site, Plenty of Fish.
“He contacted me and we talked for two weeks,” Hall tells PEOPLE of her date, a man in his 50s who wishes to remain unnamed while he’s recovering. “I liked a lot of what he said. Social change is big for me and when he told me about his volunteer work, that really stood out to me. He volunteers at his grandchild’s school and he’s active with veterans groups in Kansas City.
“We had a wonderful meal and great conversation,” Hall says of their date. “They boxed our food and we continued to talk for 45 more minutes, chatting about family and friends.”
But suddenly her date coughed three times and lifted his finger as if to excuse himself.
“We weren’t eating so I knew he wasn’t choking,” Hall remembers. “I turned my head to the side to give him some privacy and then the next thing I knew there were dishes falling onto my side of the booth.”
Her date stood up and immediately fell face-first on the restaurant’s marble floor. Hall ran to his side and with the help of a server, Becca Bartholomew, they rolled him over.
“He had glazed-over eyes and blood was coming from his mouth. I checked and he had no heart rate so I began chest compressions and CPR,” says Hall, a former respiratory therapist who now works as an online educator of doctoral-level research.
Hall says Bartholomew took charge and told her coworkers to call 911 as the two women continued CPR.
“I checked for a pulse again and he had a weak pulse,” Hall says.
Eight minutes later, paramedics arrived and hooked him up to a monitor where they detected a heart rhythm. Hall followed the ambulance to the emergency room and left her card with hospital staff so the man’s family could contact her.
The next day, Hall called the hospital and was relieved when she was patched through to her date’s hospital room.
“It meant he had survived,” she says.
Hall connected with her date’s daughter and they began texting. They arranged a time for her to come visit him in the hospital on April 10.
“He looked amazing,” Hall says. “And he remembered everything about our conversation at the restaurant. I told him, ‘I never got to thank you for the meal,’ and he said, ‘Oh my god, you saved my life!’ “
After a series of tests, doctors were unable to find the exact cause of the man’s episode. He has since been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. Hall and Bartholomew have created a GoFundMe page to help their new friend defray medical costs that insurance will not cover.
One thing he can look forward to after his recovery? Another date with Hall.
“He asked for a second date in the hospital,” Hall says. “I was extremely honored. What means the most to me is that he works on his health and wellness right now.”
After her frightening experience, Hall wants to educate others on the importance of becoming CPR-certified, and she’s encouraging others to sign up for an American Red Cross first aid and CPR course. (Find a training course in your area here.)
“It is so easy to learn basic concepts of CPR,” she says. “And it can save someone’s life.”
Hall admits that she still becomes emotional when she thinks about how sudden it all was.
“When I sat across from him, he looked like the perfect picture of health,” Hall says of her date. “It made me realize how important every moment of our day is and how important it is for family to know how much we love them.”