I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. A really long time actually.
After Gabe’s death there was one thing I was thankful for, and that is that I knew that everything was done quickly that could possibly have saved him. He received CPR and there was an Automated External Defibrillartor (AED) at the school where he collapsed. I was thankful because I never had any question of what if with regard to an AED. There was no question of whether he could have survived if only an AED had been avaliable- because there was one, and it was used, but due to the nature of his heart defect and scar tissue on his heart it just didn’t work. But it was there and it was tried.
I have come across more than a few families in this journey, though, who didn’t have that assurance. Their loved ones collapsed where there was no AED and there is always that question- if there had been one there would their child have survived? That is a huge burden to carry- that feeling of what if. The only way to minimize that burden is to have AEDs available in as many places as possible, especially places where people are exerting themselves.
This brings me to the community pool. Shortly after the pool opened in May as I sat there I realized there didn’t appear to be an AED. I looked into it and sure enough there was none. To me that did not feel acceptable. Gabe’s dad and I discussed it and decided that we would try to help obtain one for the pool. We talked with Cary Jackson, the president of the pool board who agreed and we decided to start the process of obtaining an AED. Cary did all the leg work- making sure to get the grant and getting pool board behind the effort.
AEDs are not cheap, and I think they may seem unnecessary to some. Sometimes people feel like having a rescue squad nearby is good enough. I can understand that feeling- the squad is about a minute away. But in an emergency you have to make the call, they are dispatched, and then have to get in the vehicle and get to the emergency. Even with phenomenal response times that is not good enough. If you can have a device with the potential to restart a heart why wouldn’t you want one? If your child or loved one collapses is a few minutes good enough? I really don’t think so. We felt there should be an AED at the pool. So between our donation, the board picking up a significant amount, and the AED grant, we were able to get one for the pool. We started the process in June and it finally arrived (grants sometimes take a long time).
We HOPE that it will never need to be used, but starting with the next swim season if anyone suffers a cardiac arrest at our pool they will have a better chance at survival because an attempt at restarting their heart will be immediate. We did this in Gabe’s memory and it is our hope that it may save a family the grief of losing a loved one.
In July Cary presented this sign, which will hang on the wall where the AED is mounted. Gabe loved the pool and it means so much to have his picture up there with a device that could save someone’s life.