Emotional victory for Thamesford mom as defibrillators installed in schools

Board trustees all voted unanimously in favour of the motion Tuesday night, making a commitment to maintain and train staff for the defibrillator machines that will soon be in their schools.

A Thamesford mom has been pushing to have defibrillators installed in all public buildings across Ontario

Cara Schmidt became an advocate for AEDs in public spaces, like schools and sports fields, after the tragic death of her son. (Cara Schmidt)

In an effort to save lives, all schools in the Thames Valley school district will have defibrillators installed over the next five years.

Board trustees made the commitment Tuesday night to maintain and train staff for the automated external defibrillator (AEDs) machines.

"There's been a lot of communication from the community that they wanted this to be a priority," said Matt Reid, chairperson of the Thames Valley District School Board.

Cara Schmidt, a Thamesford mom, has been one of the people pushing for the change. She became an advocate for AEDs in public spaces, like schools and sports fields, after the tragic death of her son two years ago.

Tragedy prompts change

In May 2015, Schmidt's son, Andrew Stoddart, died suddenly of cardiac arrest while playing soccer at a school in Kintore, Ontario.

"It took paramedics 12 minutes to arrive and give him his first initial shock, and it was too late," said Schmidt.  

If a defibrillator was there at the time her son first collapsed, he may still be alive today, Schmidt explained.

On May 11, 2015, Andrew Stoddart, died suddenly of cardiac arrest while playing soccer at a school in Kintore, Ontario. (Cara Schmidt)

Since his death, Schmidt has created a Facebook group and charity in honour of her son, in order to raise awareness of AEDs.

"If I could help save one life and help a family not go through what we had to go through, it would be worth it," she said. 

Schmidt was at the school board meeting when Trustees unanimously supported the move. She was overwhelmed with emotions because she had been lobbying the board for two years.

"I just cried. I wish my son was here with me, but — if this is any consolation — than I am very, very happy that he could possibly save a life or two or three or four," said Schmidt.

Getting the defibrillators in Thames Valley schools is just the beginning of her son's legacy, Schmidt explained. Her charity group hopes to have AEDs in all public spaces across Ontario.