Cafe Millennium owners Louise Zanussi and Judy Lee were closely affected by the death of Brock Ruether, a 16-year-old felled by sudden cardiac arrest during volleyball practice.
So now they are raising funds to put a device that may have saved Ruether’s life in a local school.
On Wednesday, the cafe, located in downtown Red Deer’s Millennium Centre, was selling cookies with proceeds going towards the purchase of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
They were selling cookies by the tray, with one person walking away with 18 trays at $10 a tray. An AED costs about $1,900.
Zanussi said one person, who works in the same building at Trevita, found a spare AED and will donate it to the cause.
“This was meant as a project for the schools, because the mom (of Brock) wants education and having them available,” said Zanussi.
“At this point, because Cafe Millennium is going to guarantee one for sure, whether we make enough cookie money or not we will buy one.
“So now we have two and we’ll do one to the (Red Deer) Public and one to the Catholic (school districts).”
Lee went to high school with Brock’s mother Kim, while Zanussi knows the father’s family, dating back to elementary school.
Even though the incident took place in Fairview, Zanussi said it hit close to home as their kids are the same age as Brock was.
“The nice thing is (people) are stopping and asking questions,” said Zanussi. “This didn’t happen locally, but this could happen.”
The cafe will continue to accept donations for the AED after Wednesday’s cookie selling campaign.
Kim Ruether started Project Brock with the goal of making sure every school in Alberta has an AED available and that a number of people in each school is trained to use it.
Perry Tremblay, St. John’s Ambulance master staff instructor, said he has heard of a few instances over the years where an AED was used in Red Deer, and that St. John’s volunteers used one a few years ago.
He said during a cardiac arrest incident there is about a 12-minute window for help to arrive and the use of an AED, in conjunction with CPR, can hopefully help. The AED is used when the heart is beating irregularly.
It sends small shocks meant to reset the heart’s rhythm.
Tremblay said they are easy to use as the devices will talk to you, giving instructions. St. John’s offers training on the devices.
There are AEDs in both Red Deer Public high schools, Hunting Hills and Lindsay Thurber.
Red Deer College has four AEDs, strategically placed throughout their facilities. None of the ones placed at RDC have had to be used, but staff are trained to use them in the event of an emergency.
The City of Red Deer has AEDs at facilities across the city, with two at each of Collicutt Centre, the G.H. Dawe Community Centre and the Recreation Centre, and one at each of the Michener Aquatic Centre, Kinex Arena, Kinsmen Arena, Great Chief Park, Heritage Ranch, River Bend Golf and Recreation area and the Red Deer Tennis Club.
Kay Kenny, City of Red Deer recreation superintendent, said they have only had to use the city-owned ones once, on a man at the Red Deer Arena.
“They’re sometimes readied to be used if we have an incident or situation,” said Kenny.
“But we find that when we call 911 and get our emergency response people to come before we engage in the AED. They’re there and taking over the situation.”