AED at Ball Field Saves Life of Iowa High School First Baseman

Matt Shaver, sudden cardiac arrest survivor

A readily accessible automated external defibrillator (AED) at the ball field saved the life of Matt Shaver, a Johnston, Iowa, high school baseball player, this summer.

The 18-year-old first baseman was outside the dugout during the second game of a home-field doubleheader when he experienced sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). The high school’s trainer, Chris Wiedmann, called for an AED and started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), assisted by a nurse who had been watching the game from the stands.

An assistant coach brought a Powerheart® G3 AED. The unit diagnosed a shockable condition and administered two shocks to Shaver before an ambulance arrived.

Shaver was taken to a hospital where data from the AED gave doctors further insight into the cause of his collapse. His family was told he had experienced ventricular fibrillation, a heartbeat irregularity that causes the heart to quiver and prevents it from pumping blood.

Johnston head coach Michael Barta told the Des Moines Register that Shaver had just come out of the game and was being examined by the team’s trainer for an ankle issue when he collapsed.

“As scary as this all is, we were in the right place at the right time, with the right people to save Matt’s life,” Matt’s mother, Amy Shaver, told the school district. “It is critical for people to know CPR and be able to perform it when the situation arises. Further, knowing where an AED machine is located and how to use it can mean the difference in terms of life and death. We are incredibly thankful for the quick-thinking and medical skills of everyone involved.”

Shaver’s recovery is documented on the Facebook page Prayers for Matt Shaver. The family noted at a recent Institute of Medicine report found that only 6 percent of people who suffer SCA outside of a hospital setting survive.

Shaver received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to prevent a recurrence of ventricular fibrillation and was back on the bench with his teammates just over a week later.