When 6-year-old Matthew Gates collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest while playing after school, staff from Brookhollow Elementary School and Matthew’s YMCA program sprang into action.
The YMCA site director, a teacher, and the school custodian acted in seconds, starting CPR immediately and using the nearby Powerheart G3 automated external defibrillator to save the kindergartner’s life.
Matthew’s mom Cacie Gates, who’s a teacher at Brookhollow, was right across the hall in the teacher’s lounge when it happened. She arrived at the school gym to find the rescue in progress.
“I saw them doing CPR and all of a sudden the AED just appeared,” she recalls. “Everything happened so quickly, and perfectly. It was just like in the training videos. All I had to do was watch!”
To her relief, Matthew responded to the shock administered by the AED. He began breathing, and his pulse came back.
When they arrived at the hospital, doctors kept telling Matthew’s parents how lucky the boy was.
“They said that if there had not been such a rapid response and an AED on hand, a kid Matthew’s age might not have made it,” Cacie said.
Matthew suffered cardiac arrest on January 13. His mother reports that he’s back to normal after having an internal defibrillator implanted.
Cacie Gates is not only an advocate for AEDs, she’s an advocate for AED training. She and several other teachers at the school had taken CPR and AED refresher training from the school nurse last year. One of the other teachers who attended that training, Chris Ramirez, was one of the three staff who helped rescue Matthew.
Matthew has a heart condition called left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy. Doctors had told his parents he would not encounter serious health risks until he was a teenager, but his parents had purchased an AED for the family and had made sure that there was an AED at Michael’s school.
Matthew was the third child to be rescued in the Pflugerville School District using a Powerheart G3 AED. The school district has deployed AEDs system-wide, complying with a 2007 Texas state law requiring schools to have AEDs on site.
Here’s Matthew’s dad, Mike Gates, talking about the rescue.