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Close Call Prompts Family to Fundraise for AED at School

Life can change in a heartbeat even for a child.Playing tag with his friends on the Wilfrid Walker school playground three years ago, Benjamin Fizzard fell unconscious to the ground.The seven-year-old regained consciousness without CPR, but had to be rushed to the Stollery Childrens Hospital in Edmonton and fitted with an internal cardiac defibrillator and a pacemaker.

Close Call Prompts Family to Fundraise for AED at School 1

Benjamins cardiac incident on Dec. 4, 2014 was shocking, but his parents, Sheldon and Andrea, knew their son had heart issues before his collapse.Months earlier, he had a loop recorder implanted to track his heart activity.

Information from the device indicated Benjamin had ventricular tachycardia. Hewas diagnosed with Brugada syndrome, a potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disorder that is sometimes inherited.Its rare in this part of the world, however its extremely common in the Philippines as well as some of the Eastern European countries and my wife is of Italian descent, Sheldon said.

Andrea was diagnosed shortly after Benjamin.Genetic testing has not confirmed if the couples 17-year-old daughter Caitlyn or 11-year-old daughter Emma have the syndrome.After Benjamins close call three years ago, Sheldon and Andrea recognized that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were readily available in many places throughout the city but not at their sons elementary school.

Regina is probably one of the best places in Canada for the number of AEDs we have per capita and theyre placed in shopping malls, ice rinks, the casino they are all over the place, Sheldon said. The school situation was a little bit different however.All high schools and Catholic elementary schools in Regina had AEDs, but public elementary schools didnt.

Close Call Prompts Family to Fundraise for AED at School 2

Sheldon launched a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase an AED for Wilfrid Walker.Raising more than the $2,000 required to buy the AED, the extra funds were put toward battery and pad replacements for the unit.Before our device was placed in the school, its my understanding that the public school board decided the time was right to place an AED in every elementary school in the city, Sheldon said.

AEDs were installed in public high schools in 2008 as a result of a corporate donation, said Terry Lazarou, spokesman for Regina Public Schools.Benjamins experience was a catalyst for the public school boards decision to put AEDs in all of its elementary schools in 2015.Their donation was very welcome, Lazarou said.

When Ecole Wascana Plains School opened this fall, the AED moved with Benjamin.Sheldon, a respiratory therapist, and his wife, Andrea, a cardiac care nurse, are well aware of the importance of AEDs in their roles as health-care providers.The importance of the lifesaving device was reinforced to them as parents after their sons close call.

The device is invaluable, Sheldon said. Its extremely simple to use. Certainly I would recommend anybody have the training for CPR, but even in CPR training, there is the AED training.

Its a very quick thing to learn because these devices are completely automated. In my opinion, theyre idiot proof.

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