Your gentle touch, your tender care. A smile as bright as sunshine; a heart of no compare.
A spirit that will glow forever, in the memories that we share.

Monday, September 24, 2012

This Video May Help You Save A Life.

Visit to see what little it takes to save a life

So what exactly happens when Sudden Cardiac Arrest strikes?  And what can you do? 

In a perfect world, an AED is never more than 2 minutes (running distance) away from a victim.  Even so, compression-only CPR alone can prevent a person from dying or becoming severely brain-damaged when his or her heart stops suddenly. 

This Save-A-Life simulator is a video that prompts you to on-the-spot action as if you were a bystander.  Having been in this situation before, I can't stress enough the fact that this (SCA) could happen to anyone, anytime, any day.  Going through the steps of this simulator can give you a very real picture of what happens when someone's heart stops, and the questions embedded at key points during the event prompt you to think:  What would I do?  And what should I do? 

Please pay special attention to the "snoring" sound the victim makes.  Not many people recognize that this sound is an indicator that the heart has suddenly stopped beating.

If I could change one thing about the video, it would be that the chest compressions given during CPR need to be much, much harder.  I do realize, however, that the "victim" is role-playing, and that deep compressions could be harmful to a live person, but I've also come to learn that a lot of people are afraid of hurting a victim during CPR.  Yes, you may break a rib or two on the victim.  But ribs heal.  Death doesn't. 

After watching, check out The American Red Cross to find out where you can become AED/CPR certified.  Take one of these short, inexpensive classes one night.  You won't regret it.

Click on this link or on the caption above to start the simulator video.  Watch it, share it, and if the situation ever calls, don't be one of those dumb-struck bystanders in the background.  Spring to action and save a life. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 4th, 2012: A Survivor

This news just came down the pike from Parent Heart Watch... while we were observing a solemn second "annniversary" of Aidan's passing and staking balloons in places where AEDs will be placed, a teen in Florida went into sudden cardiac arrest... and LIVED!  It's uplifting to know that another family will be forever marking September 4th now, but as a day of thanks for another chance at living.  We need more of these success stories-- which means more AEDs.  Edited later today:  we learned that the SCA event happened July 30th.  Nonetheless, we're thrilled there's another survivor, particularly in that his life was saved because of the efforts of some wonderful people we've come to know...

The AED that saved this child had been donated by friends of ours from Parent Heart Watch.  Andy and Martha-Lopez Anderson began the Saving Young Hearts organization after the sudden cardiac death of their 10-year-old son, Sean.  Sean was casually rollerblading in the park when he collapsed suddenly.  Martha and I have talked many times about the similarities between the way Sean and Aidan both suddenly, without signs, symptoms, or warnings, become victims of SCA.  The Andersons, like Steve and I, have explored so many avenues in searching for answers as to why this happened to our boys, and they still, eight years later, have none.

The first time Martha told me the story of "that day," I pictured Sean rollerblading along the narrow paved paths that carve out the edges of the many playing fields in our East Brandywine Township park.   Which is silly, because the Andersons live in Florida.  But that's what I used as my frame of reference, and I've often wondered what would have been the outcome if Sean's park had had an AED available in February 2004.  I think about him a lot as Steve and I near our goals of installing AEDs in our town park.  Would Sean have been a survivor, too?

Someday, we hope, every park and public property will be equipped with AEDs.  And when Steve and I dream about what it would take to protect all kids, all the time, from SCA, every home would have one, too, as regularly part of nuts-and-bolts safety gear as smoke detectors.

From yesterday's event in Florida and other AED success stories, dreams are starting to come true. 

For EPSN's coverage of this story and more regarding SCA, click here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Two Years Later: 9/4/2012

One of four bunches of balloons that mark where the AEDs will be installed at East Brandywine Township Park

Steve and I search constantly for silver linings.  And when they're hard to find, we sometimes create our own.

So, this morning, joined by some family members and dear friends, we staked visible markers of the positive change our loss is effecting.  Because of the combined efforts of all of our 5K for Aidan J. supporters and volunteers, Cardiac Science, the East Brandywine Youth Athletics Association, and East Brandywine Township supervisory board, Steve and I are proud to announce the impending installation of 6 AEDs in three of our local parks where kids and teens play recreational sports.  The purchase order has been signed, and Cardiac Science is in the process of completing the order so that the machines are in place in the next few weeks-- the beginning of fall soccer season for EBYA.  When the third pavilion is built later this year down by the new baseball field of the township park, a 7th AED will be housed there. 

The most astonishing part?  EBYA is footing the bill for the six machines.  Our 5K funds need only contribute to the climate-controlled housings that need to be built on the pavilions for the three machines that will be fully accessible to all park users. 

In a crazy act of generosity that goes above and beyond the super-special pricing that they're offering EBYA on these machines, Chip Miller and Cardiac Science are donating a machine as well, which we intend to place within a school that Aidan attended.

Furthermore, the results of Molly and Nate Unger's "Mt. Whitney in a Day" fundraiser are providing 4 additional AEDs for our area, one of which will be installed at their elementary school, East Ward.  (Molly is a former preschool classmate and friend of Aidan's).  While all schools in Downingtown are equipped with at least one AED, they are all what our AED specialist calls, "end of life," being more than a decade old, and "belong in the Smithsonian."  They were placed in the PA district schools as a result of the Greg Moyer Fund as a result of the tobacco settlements in 2001 and 2002.  Think about having a 12-year-old cell phone; how much would your ability to communicate be limited?  Quite the same for this piece of life-saving equipment, which is the reason why Steve and I will be furthering our efforts in the school district after we do our best to make sure all of the area youth rec leagues have at least one AED at every playing field and court. 

This adds up to 12 AEDs that will soon be placed in our local area as a result of Aidan's passing.  We began what we hope to be an annual tradition today by setting bunches of balloons (7 balloons per bunch, as was Aidan's age when he died) at each of the sites of the AEDs purchased as a result of the efforts of our community and the 5K event:

(1) at East Ward Elementary School
(4) at East Brandywine Township Park this fall; (1) more will be added when 3rd pavilion is built
(1) at Spatola Field (EBYA T-ball home park)
(1) at Hopewell (EBYA basketball)

Obviously, most readers are doing the math here, and are figuring out that we have additional machines at our disposal to donate at the moment.  This is beyond our most hopeful dreams for this effort, and we've only just initiated it a few months ago!  Having met and talked at length with several families from Parent Heart Watch, our sponsoring organization, we were told to expect a long period of back-and-forth, rounds of meetings, and even fighting for justification to install AEDs in our community.  We are absolutely blown away by the proactive, greatly responsible, ahead-of-the-curve reaction we're receiving from the people who will be helping us get the job done. 

Of course, we hope they never have to be used.  But having had the "education we never wanted" these past two years, Steve and I are greatly aware that, in a school district of 11,000 children, the odds of a Downingtown youth suffering a cardiac arrest aren't slim. 

But, when it happens, we won't be known as the community in which a child died from SCA.  We'll be the community that was prepared to successfully manage a sudden cardiac arrest, and some other family or families will be able to see their child(ren) graduate high school, give young adulthood the old college try, and realize the possibilities that have been building for a lifetime. 

Thank you for this opportunity to keep the kids in our community safe, Aidan.  When we see seven red balloons, we think of your brilliant smile, and we now know they mark the spot of smart machines that can save other victims of SCA.  We love you, baby. 

Mommy and Dad