A family’s tragedy has inspired them to donate automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to two schools in School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap).
On Feb. 10, 2018 the unthinkable happened to Rosemary and Andy Foster when their 15 year old grandson died in his sleep. Rosemary, who found him, did CPR until the ambulance arrived but unfortunately it was to no avail.
“The AEDs are a worthwhile cause and something fitting in remembrance of Jeremy. He was an amazing young man, generous, caring and very intelligent. I had big aspirations for him.”
“He would have graduated from Sullivan this year,” Rosemary added.
An autopsy later determined that Jeremy, who had never complained or been diagnosed with any heart-related illness except for an irregular heartbeat, had died of heart complications. He had an enlarged heart and the walls of his heart were already hardening up.
The findings were a shock to his family, who described Jeremy as being very active, riding his bike everywhere, taking part in activities at the 180 Youth at Shuswap Community Church, and enjoying PE at Jackson Campus of Salmon Arm Secondary. “He never complained of pain or fatigue. It was a huge, traumatic, shock to us.”
Rosemary said some time later she was watching the news and she saw a report about a student in Oliver whose life was saved by school staff by using an AED. She said she couldn’t help but think that if she had got to Jeremy quicker with an AED he might have survived. “It might not have saved him but maybe.”
She added that they knew they wanted to do something in Jeremy’s memory but hadn’t decided what. After the news report and speaking to teacher Ken Jamieson, Rosemary and Andy decided to donated two AEDs to the school district in Jeremy’s memory, which are being located at Shuswap Middle School and Carlin Elementary Middle School. The AEDs have now been installed and staff have been trained.
“Our thoughts were that we can’t bring Jeremy back but if the AEDs save even one person they are certainly worth the money.”
She added that she was pleased to find out that the AEDs are also available to emergency responders for adults in trouble in the community as well. “I was really pleased at that. They may sit and not be needed for years, but if it’s needed then it is there.”
SD83 now has AEDs at Eagle River Secondary, A.L. Fortune Secondary, Salmon Arm Secondary Jackson and Sullivan campuses thanks to the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation, a charitable foundation that has established free CPR and defibrillator training programs in secondary schools throughout British Columbia and across Canada.
SD83 also received a donation last spring of an AED from Pinnacle Renewable Energy in Armstrong when company staff decided that they should fundraise and buy an AED for Pleasant Valley Secondary School. There is also an AED at North Shuswap, our most rural school.
This kind and generous donation from Rosemary and Andy means there are now AEDs in place at Carlin Elementary Middle School and Shuswap Middle School.
As the AEDs are installed staff in the receiving school are trained on how to use them.
All AED’s in SD83 schools are Public Access AED’s, readily accessible for public use and registered in the BC PAD Program Registry. The PAD registry ensures the locations of AED’s are available to BC Ambulance Service 9-1-1 dispatchers, during a cardiac arrest, so that Dispatchers can direct rescuers to the precise location of the nearest available AED.
AED’s in SD83 are equipped with a rescue image screen in full colour display along with CPR voice prompts providing step by step directions and live feedback for depth and rate of chest compressions to assist rescuers with high quality CPR. With the simple push of a button, these AEDs can be used on either adult or child patients. The School District’s AEDs are also wi-fi enabled and provide automated self tests to ensure AEDs are always ready for use.
Anyone wishing to donate an AED to SD83 should contact Bev Snow, SD83 Manager of Occupational Health and Safety at 250-832-9415.