A football team's familiar hustle on the gridiron is just part of fall. Watching your student put on his football gear is a source of pride for many parents. But the game can turn serious when a player goes into sudden cardiac arrest. What would you do? How would help? Brooke Wilson knows.
"It makes me feel good that I can be there to save someone's life. It makes me feel better than before, because I had no idea, like, how to do CPR and now I feel good I know how to do it," Brooke Wilson said.
The Baltic High School senior and her classmates learned CPR in April. They used CPR dummies from the American Heart Association.
"It was easy to learn. The only thing I had trouble with was, like, my weak arms," Wilson said.
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One woman wants to make sure CPR know-how stays strong in this school. Baltic did not have its own CPR kits, at least until now. October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awarenes Month, and Ann Thompson is donating 20 CPR dummies. Should a potentially deadly situation happen, these kits will continue to help students know how to act if someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest.
"Every minute that goes by is a ten percent chance they don't live. If you go ten minutes, there's no way to save that person. So, time is of the essence," Thompson said.
According to the Journal of Athletic Training, 1,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest every day, and many of those people are student athletes. Another cause can be an undiagnosed heart condition, which is what killed Thompson's son, Adam.
"He just loved life," Thompson said.
The 16-year-old had a condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM. It causes the heart to thicken, forcing it to work harder to pump blood. One in 500 people have this disease, but they may never notice the symptoms. Adam had just finished his first driver's ed. lesson, when he collapsed and died in his room last year. An autopsy revealed his heart was four times larger than a normal heart. Since then, Thompson and her family are doing everything they can to make sure this does happen to other moms and dads.
"If we can save the lives of other kids, that is the reason why I'm out here. Adam was always one person who loved to help people and I know he would be behind me, making this happen," Thompson said.
All together, the kits cost $800. Thompson is also spending more than $1,000 for an automated external defibrillator (AED). This donation means the school will have two: one in the gym, and one that coaches can take out to the field. The Thompsons have also donated heart screenings for students in the Baltic area. Money for these tools comes from funds raised in Adam's honor.
"This community is paying for these kids to learn CPR. This community is taking care of its own," Thompson said.
Wilson and Adam were close friends, and she said the two would often take trips to Sioux Falls, simply to visit the Dairy Queen.
"We're always going to miss Adam. He had the ability to make everyone smile and everyone misses him still," Wilson said.
October is football season, but Thompson wants people to remember its also a time to think about sudden cardiac arrest. Wilson said just knowing CPR and how to use an AED readies her for any situation.
"I would jump up and help them. I would be like trying to save their life and I don't know. It would be a good feeling to know I'm like, helping someone," Wilson said.
That is a big source of pride for at least one parent, as Thompson tries to keep her son's memory alive while trying to keep other kids from dying.