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Lancaster student saved after going into cardiac arrest 10 years ago shares story

Andrew Vaughan's classmates used CPR and an AED to save him 10 years ago when he went into cardiac arrest.

LANCASTER, Ohio — Andrew Vaughan was on a training run outside his Lancaster school when his world went dark.

“Right around this corner, about 15 to 20 feet from where we are standing to the best of my memory, is where I had my cardiac arrest,” he said.

It was 10 years ago, when classmates provided CPR and later used an AED or automatic external defibrillator to shock his heart back into rhythm.

“Had I not been where I was, with the people I was around, I would not be here today talking with you,” Vaughan said.

Lancaster City Schools may be the safest place in the state to have sudden cardiac arrest.

The school trains students as early as 4th grade on how to properly give CPR.

Sarah McGraw-Thimmes is the school district's health coordinator. She explained why the district takes these lifesaving courses so seriously.

“This is the statistic I throw out before every training with school staff: one in 50 schools is going to experience have a sudden cardiac arrest each school year. It's not going to be if, but when it's going to happen. You don't want to be in a position of 'oh, we didn't train our staff' or 'we didn't have AED supplies available',” she said.

The area is also benefited by Community Heart Watch which collaborates with the local hospital and raises money to buy AEDs for anyone who wants one.

So far, it’s bought more than 700 AEDs over the past 12 years for the Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties. They are even in parks so children playing sports are not far away from these lifesaving machines.

As for Andrew Vaughan, he says his doctors told him his cardiac arrest was caused by a condition called CPVT or catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia. It’s an inherited cardiac condition that causes sudden rhythm disturbances, called arrhythmias, in otherwise healthy children. These abnormal rhythms most often occur at times of high adrenaline levels, such as during exercise or strong emotion.

Vaughan says he’s sharing his story now in hopes it will inspire others to learn CPR.

“I don't think you should be fearful at all, anything is better than nothing,” he says.

You can learn more about Community Heart Watch here.

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