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North Texas Mom Continues Push For Defibrillators

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – With the recent health emergency of an Azle middle school football player, there is proof defibrillators can help save lives.

It’s something you don’t have to tell one North Texas mother, who has worked to help make sure every school has a device. Her charitable quest is being done in memory of her daughter.

“I live with Sarah’s death every single day,” Laura Friend said of her life, since losing her daughter.

Laura told CBS 11 News she believes a defibrillator could have saved her daughter’s life.

In 2004, 12-year-old Sarah Friend was taking junior lifeguard classes at a North Richland Hills water park. She died during that training.

Laura remembers, “She was climbing the stairs and collapsed and had a cardiac arrest.”

While there was an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) on site, no one used it on Sarah.

Soon after her daughter’s death, Laura raised money and donated 55 AED’s to schools in North Texas. One of those devices went to the Azle school where the student/athlete collapsed.

Getting dozens of AED’s into local schools was an accomplishment, but Laura wanted to make sure every school had one.

“We wrote the bill and got it passed and the state of Texas paid for one AED per school, so I thought lives were going to be saved,” Laura said.

CBS 11 talked with nurses who said the defibrillators are easy to use. Once you open them up, the device actually talks you through the entire process.

But, Laura said simple having an AED on a school campus isn’t enough.

Through a program at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Laura now travels to campuses and helps school staff develop cardiac emergency plans.

Laura talked about some of the things a school staff should have answers for. “Who are you going to call? Who’s going to grab the AED? Who’s going to call 911? Who’s going to start chest compressions?” she said. “You’ve got to have a plan or it will be very chaotic during an [cardiac] arrest.”

When she heard about the collapse of the Azle 7th grader, Laura said she thought of her own daughter and was thankful one life was saved. “We can help others in Sarah’s memory,” she said.

Texas school campuses now all have the AED’s, but Laura is recommending that parents, of children who play club sports, also push to have them at sport games and practices.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machines cost between $800 and $1500.

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