Local mom on crusade to buy life-saving defibrillators for schools

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Matthew Truax died of sudden cardiac arrest at his high school when he was 16. His mom is trying to get more defibrillators in schools. (Photo courtesy of family)

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — Melinda Truax’s son died of sudden cardiac arrest. Now, she is on a crusade to educate the public about heart health.

Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack and most victims die before they get to the hospital. Medics say an Automated External Defibrillator could save many lives.

Truax says if someone collapses in front of you, grab an AED.

“Run for the AED. Worst case scenario, you have to put it back on the wall,” Truax said.

Truax believes her son Matthew could still be alive if an AED was nearby.

“He suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and up until that time we thought he was perfectly healthy,” Truax said.

Her 16-year-old son was running a mile on a track at Meadowdale High when he suddenly collapsed.

The closest AED was inside the school, up a long flight of stairs.

“For every minute a victim is down, you lose 10 percent chance of survival,” Truax said.

By the time medics arrived, it was too late for Matthew.

“We miss him so much. Every time I tell Matthew’s story, it takes a little bit out of me,” Truax said.

But she tells it over and over again in hopes of saving another child.

“There are so many more kids that need to be protected,” Truax said.

Schools in the Edmonds School District have at least one AED but Truax says that’s not enough. She wants multiple defibrillators throughout all schools, including areas where athletes practice.

“The possibility of having additional AEDs on each campus is something we value,” Edmonds School spokesperson DJ Jakala said.

After Matthew’s death, a defibrillator was donated and set up next to the track.

The district says they can’t afford to buy more. So it’s up to Truax to raise $200,000 to meet her goals.

“Hopefully, people who hear this will go to their school and say, hey, do we have an AED?” Truax said.

It’s a small device that could mean the difference between life or death.

“You are going to increase their chance of survival by up to 80 percent,” Truax said.

AEDs will only shock a person if it detects a cardiac arrest.

Truax is hosting a gala to raise money on February 28 at Lynnwood Convention Center. For more information go to heartofedmondssd.org.

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