Defibrillators approved for local high schools

Defibrillators approved for local high schools »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — It took years of speaking before local school boards before she finally got results, but Corinne Ruiz never gave up.

Monday night, the Kern High School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to place automated external defibrillators, known as AEDs, on all its campuses.

"Tonight is such good news. It was a long time coming," said the 60-year-old mother.

An AED is a portable device that treats sudden cardiac arrest. It sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm.

This was a personal issue for Ruiz. Her daughter Olivia was 14 years old when she suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died nearly nine years ago. Ruiz said she made a promise back then that she would devote her time to get AEDs in schools.

She did it in memory of Olivia.

In November, Centennial High School student Caleb Hannink suffered sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed during his physical education class. Despite a quick response by emergency personnel, Hannink died. Centennial did not have an AED on campus.

"This is huge for the community," said Mike Lencioni, captain with the Bakersfield Fire Department.

Lencioni is part of a team that will train Kern High School District personnel in the use of an AED.

Up to now, not a single school district in Kern County has been willing to place the devices in all its school sites. Ruiz believes districts are afraid of being liable should something go wrong during the application of an AED by school personnel.

"Schools have to be prepared for a cardiac emergency, and to do that, they need to have an AED program," said Ruiz.