Kern High School District campuses outfitted with AEDs

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A minor addition to Centennial High School's gymnasium represented a major accomplishment for Corinne Ruiz.

Centennial was the first campus in the Kern High School District to receive an AED, or automatic external defibrillator.

Ruiz lost her 14-year-old daughter Olivia after she went into cardiac arrest at school. She's convinced an AED could have saved Olivia's life.

"I made it my mission to make sure that this doesn't happen to another young student," Ruiz said.

It took Ruiz nearly four years to get approval from school administrators.

"They were afraid of liability issues," said Ruiz, "in case the AED did not work properly."

Medical professionals say for every minute a heart patient goes without defibrillation, the chances of survival go down 10 percent.

Joe Finson of the Via Foundation said just having the device nearby may save a life.

"The whole idea is to get the AED out there to the patient right away, hopefully within 3 to 4 minutes, and we have a really excellent chance of survival," Finson said.

Help didn't come soon enough for Caleb Hannink, who died of cardiac arrest while attending class at Centennial.

Administrators are hopeful with the new devices, something like that will never happen again.

"We feel very honored that Corrine selected Centennial High School in honor of Caleb Hannink," said Centennial assistant principal Lloyd Benson. "It's another way of possibly saving a life, and so we feel fortunate for our students and staff to be able to have a device on campus."

All 18 schools in the Kern High School District will go the way of Centennial, receiving their own AEDs by the end of the week.

"Through this work, Olivia's memory lives on," said Ruiz. "And I choose to honor her memory in this way. I always say, we're going to keep young hearts beating, and that is our mission."
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