The current Traverse City resident's insurance agency sponsored the
Ruggles watched from high up in the balcony, sitting on the opposite side as normal for the packed game as the Blackhawks chased history, going for school's first 20-0 boys basketball season.
Fennville multi-sport star
Moments later, he collapsed on the gym floor.
"All of a sudden, he went to the floor and never got up," Reid said. "It went silent."
Leonard passed away at a hospital about two hours after the game.
"The kid was a super, super nice, humble kid," Reid said. "He knew he was good, but didn't push it. It's just something I'll never forget. It's something I hope nobody else has to experience."
The presence of a functioning automated external defibrillator could have saved Leonard's life. Ruggles said there was one at Fennville, but the batteries weren't charged.
If defibrillated within the first minute of collapse, the victim's chances for survival are close to 90 percent. For every minute that defibrillation is delayed, survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent. If it is delayed by more than 10 minutes, the chance of survival in adults is less than 5 percent. Survival rates are even lower when only CPR is used.
"He was definitely shaken up," Ruggles' son Jason said. "To this day, he still chokes up when he tells the story."
Since that fateful night,
Once he and his wife Carol moved to the
"I noticed there was no AED and that got my juices flowing," the 75-year-old Ruggles said.
The church now has one.
"It's not just for the kids," Ruggles said. "It's just as likely for a parent or grandparent like me. It's a long way to the school from where races are usually held.
"Nobody thinks much about an AED. It's on the wall at the hospital or fire department. You don't think about it until you need it -- and then you hope it works."
He said his goal is to have every team at TCSF have its own AED to travel with.
Fennville's basketball coach at the time Leonard passed away,
The Ruggles family is almost ubiquitous at St. Francis track and cross country events, even though most aren't in
He knew exactly which model to purchase. The 50-year-old worked for eight years as a paramedic and another eight as a fireman. He worked one department north of the one called in to assist when Leonard fell unconscious.
Ruggles worked a lot of overtime at
That model administers the shock for you, and will only release a shock if it detects that the patient needs it. It also comes with a CPR mask and scissors to cut through a uniform, if necessary. The paddles have to be applied to bare skin on the chest.
Any Gladiators team can use it when the track or X-C teams aren't.
Jason, who moved to
"We're hoping this will spread a bit and more people will get on board," Reid said. "You never know when this will happen."
"Anything traumatic has a lasting impact on life," Richards said. "It became personal for my dad. There's not a time now when my dad goes to basketball games and doesn't think of it. It made a lasting impact on him."
Cardiac arrest in high schooler remains very uncommon, but its instances make no less of an impact.
An autopsy later revealed a previously undetected condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can thicken the lining of the heart muscle. Her parents later raised funds to donate AEDs to both Athens and Groves.
Grosse Pointe South freshman girls coach
Fruitport Calvary Christian basketball player
"Time is everything when something like that happens," Richards said. "We have this idea that kids are indestructible, but it can affect anybody."
Neither the state nor the MHSAA require schools to have AEDs, but MHSAA varsity head coaches must undergo CPR and AED training. The same training is also available to assistant coaches that are interested.
When portable AEDs first hit the market, they cost in the range of
TO THE RESCUE
He heard the urgency in Bryant's voice.
"My head whipped around," the 26-year-old certified athletic trainer at
Slumped up to a chair next the court was basketball referee
Parcell and school liaison officer Deputy
Several Gaylord fans in attendance who happened to be nurses also acted.
Bryant, who took over as athletic director three years ago after moving from
So when EMTs arrived, they came to the correct entrance, only about 10 feet from Westdorp.
At the Vikings' second meeting of the season against the
Perhaps not coincidentally,
The Vikings possess 15 throughout the district. All are portable, although teams do not take them to road games unless Parcell travels with the team.
"There's a huge emphasis now on having AEDs," Parcell said. "They really save lives."
AED SAVED LABELLE'S LIFE
He collapsed by the finish line, which happened to be near the
And he happened to have a nurse running right behind him.
LaBelle, an assistant coach on the TC
LaBelle attended the 2014 race, but didn't run in it. Instead, he took flowers to DeVries as she ran the race again. LaBelle would run the race again in 2015 and 2017.
"Being on the receiving end is good," LaBelle said.
Now, he carries the track team's AED in his pickup truck, although he shouldn't ever need it again. He's since had surgery that implanted a pacemaker.
But it's there in case anyone at a TCSF cross country or track event or practice ever needs it. When not in use, it goes in the trackside shed at
"You just have to open up the case and it prompts you through the whole procedure," LaBelle said. "It's an amazing thing."
LaBelle knew he had an issue prior to the Arcadia Days race.
"I had lived my life knowing a valve replacement was in my future," LaBelle said.
That happened in 2014 after the Arcadia incident.
Now the 68-year-old runs the VASA trail.
"It took awhile for my wife to let me do these kinds of things," LaBelle joked. "'You're going to go run in the woods? Alone?' she'd say."
None of the Ruggles family knew about LaBelle's own AED experience when they sought one for the team.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
Late at the 2019 state Masters meet at Waterford, during the last event of the three-day event's second day, Seif heard a coach frantically calling for help. An older man had fell on the pool deck and went into cardiac arrest.
"The nurse in me, I immediately ran over," Seif said.
Another nurse happened to be in the competition as well, and the two administered CPR while someone else fetched an AED. They administered two shocks, and the man survived the heart attack and later had stents put in, Seif said.
"Before that, I didn't even notice them," said Seif, a 39-year-old nurse at Munson's cancer infusion clinic. "But now I've been an advocate of having them on deck or at the event. I think that's what saved his life."
"They're very expensive," the East Jordan athletic director said. "That's why I can't put one with every first-aid kit."
The Red Devils own eight, all portable, dedicating two to the athletic department. The district bought a half dozen and received two through grants, including one from the
"I can't imagine ever losing a child," Olszewski said. "(
School AED policies vary widely.
Many -- such as Glen Lake, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Manistee and TC Central -- send one with any team that's accompanied by an athletic trainer.
Others -- including
Many others vary by sport. Suttons Bay owns one specifically for the football team. Gaylord sends them with any team commonly participating in events not at a school -- cross country, skiing, golf and bowling.
Locations vary as well, although most schools with more than one have one of them in or adjacent to the gymnasium. Most were acquired in the last decade.
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