Call it unlikely circumstances, chance, or even a miracle that brought this group of strangers together in early July at the Books A Million in Hixson.


"On the spur of the moment decided to stop by we were going out of town, decided to pick up a couple of books we wanted to take with us," Tammie Crowder says.


It's a good thing she did. Warren Bessling was sitting down reading a book after he and his wife decided to make an unexpected stop at the bookstore before heading back to Dunlap.


That's when things quickly took a turn for the worse, and the kindness, compassion, and medical experience of strangers kicked in.


"All of a sudden there was a bright light I couldn't see anything, I couldn't speak, it was like I was paralyzed," Bessling says.


Everything started to spin and he dropped the book. His wife called for help. Tammie, a 30 year ER nurse, was just a few feet away.


"Took one look and knew he was not having a stroke. I knew that he had passed away," says Crowder. "That's when the ER nurse in me popped out and I just started shouting at people to do things."

She immediately started compressions and sent her daughter to get her bag which she always keeps with her that contains an A-E-D, an automated external defibrillator.  


"I knew that for every minute that goes by and the heart needs shocking and doesn't get shocked, there's a 10 percent less survival rate," says Crowder.


Just about that time Gordon Ross, and a few minutes later Marty Benson, had also just happened to stop by the store because of a change of plans that day.

"Somebody shouted out does anybody know CPR?," says Ross.


"I've been doing CPR training for 15 years and this is the first opportunity I ever had to do it," says Benson.


This was the perfect time to put it to good use.


"As we were doing those compressions because I was over his head ventilating him, I could see his eyes start to focus," says Crowder.


There were signs of hope. Warren had a pulse and could squeeze her hand.


A few minutes later the EMS crew arrived and took him to the emergency room at Parkridge Medical Center.


"It turned out to be one of the most fortunate series of mishaps that ever happened," says Ross.


Or some like Tammie would simply call it a miracle. As for Warren he says he feels great.  As far as this group of strangers that now share a special bond.

"I guess the only thing I can say is I owe them a debt I can never repay."


Just being alive and doing well is payment enough for them.

As for the book Tammie was looking for, she did find it.  Books-A-Million presented everyone involved with gift certificates from the book store.