On October 25, 2016, at roughly 10 pm, I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. I was lucky to be at the university sports complex, in the Zamboni bay, where an AED was easily accessible. I was also lucky that the EMTs had lingered after the game and were able to quickly respond and save my life. Hell, I was lucky that there was a hockey game on that Tuesday night that I was able to be at in the first place.
Looking back over the last year has been an interesting experience. I have had so many opportunities presented to me. I was able to go to Washington DC for an inauguration seminar. I was able to go to Pittsburgh, Albany, Miami, and Stockton with pep band. I went to not one but four concerts, including one this upcoming Friday. I'll even be getting my first tattoo soon.
Before this happened, I had never been much of a medical advocate. I'm an advocate for quite a few things, but my advocacy on the medical side hardly went past affordable healthcare, abortion access, and speaking out against Autism Speaks. To be fair, after this event, my medical advocacy has just begun to grow. I've spent most of the last year recuperating and trying to get my life together again.
I never realized just how important AEDs are or how little access there is to them until it became a vital part of saving my life. In high school, I was required to get CPR and AED training in order to graduate and I, like most of my class, complained the entire time. I was never going to use it, so why did I need it? I was right, in a way. I didn't use it, but someone else who was trained was able to use it until the EMTs got there, and that person is absolutely key in my survival.
Looking around campus, I don't see AEDs, even in mass student areas where one would expect them. Honestly, I couldn't tell you where the closest AED is, aside from the one literally permanently embedded in my chest. My state only requires college campuses to provide AEDs in facilities where athletic activities are carried out. For us, this is literally four buildings.
There are also no CPR classes offered to the general student population. According to a council of administrators, the fact that Athletic Training instructors offer CPR/AED training to Athletic Training students means that the classes are properly available to the entire 10,000 student population.
To the school's credit, they did put three more AEDs in the main sports complex after my incident. However, between our soccer coach having saved the life of a 15-year-old soccer player who also suffered a cardiac arrest over the summer and the fact that I am the furthest thing from a student-athlete, I would think that we would've made more of an effort to spread awareness about heart health and get people CPR/AED certified.
But I'm just one student, just one voice, and my cardiac arrest didn't even kill me. Maybe we need more voices, louder voices, to see results. For now, however, I'll go back to trying to contact public safety to learn where all the AEDs actually are.