School Honors People For Saving Teen's Life

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16-year-old Chris Fowler knows an automated external defibrillator, or AED, saved his life, but he didn't realize how many people did, too.

More than a dozen people were honored Monday night in the Ovid-Elsie High School auditorium for their heroic actions last fall.

"I was just standing there counting them," Fowler said. "It makes me realize how fortunate I am to actually be here and to have the people around me that I did on that day, and that I continue to have around me."

They're the ones who sprang into action when Chris collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest during a regular football practice in early October. Community members, coaches, EMTs, and the Athletic Director who grabbed the AED herself, all played a part.

"When it shocked him, when it said 'stand clear' and everyone had to back away, it truly was a miracle that day," Ovid-Elsie Athletic Director Sonya Latz said. "It was the scariest thing that I have ever encountered."

Through Sparrow Health System's Thoracic and Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation, 39 schools have received a donated AED over the last 10 years. Doctors hope it will be more.

"I think every school should have an AED," Dr. Daryl Melvin said. "And I think it should come from the communities, and then the people need to be trained to use them, and it will save lives."

Dr. Melvin works at Sparrow's Thoracic Cardiovascular Institute and is an Ovid-Elsie alum. He's the main reason why the AED was there in the first place, after he suggested the donation several years ago. A realization the Fowler Family faces every day.

"I didn't even know what one was, but now every time I walk into a building, I immediately look for it," Chris's mother Amy Fowler said.

Chris can't play basketball this season as he usually would, but he's helping coach the freshman. At away games he enjoys being the poster child for AEDs everywhere.

"There's always a picture of me that ends up on Facebook the next day of me like looking at an AED or standing next to it, just 'cause it's just such a big part of my life," Fowler said.

The October incident was the first and only time thus far Ovid-Elsie has need to use its AED.

The school has a second one now and the staff is going through more extensive training with the device. They hope to serve as an example for other schools.

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