Coach survives cardiac arrest thanks to school-site AED program

December 7, 2001

It was the afternoon of November 6th and the student body at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, was in the midst of a pep rally celebrating the cross-country team’s state championship. Assistant coach, Terry Artman, 54, had just finished his congratulatory remarks when he took his seat and slumped to the floor. Jubilation turned to distress as 1,600 students, parents, teachers and Artman’s wife, Mary, looked on. Fortunately, the school had two automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on the premises and the response team raced into action. Jean Karris, the school nurse, Jim Kolzow, a security guard and retired paramedic, and Megan McGovern, an athletic trainer, were joined in the rescue process by Barbara MacTaggart, a parent of one of the athletes. Providing a real-time educational demonstration that is sure to endure, they administered CPR and delivered one shock with the AED. Artman was awake and alert by the time paramedics from nearby Lisle arrived a few minutes later.

"Once I became conscious and realized where I was, I tried to get up and remove myself from the situation. I wanted the attention to be on the athletes, not on me," said Artman. "After all, it was the school’s first state championship." Artman’s rescuers would not let him walk away. Instead, he was transported to the hospital, where he received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and was discharged four days later. Artman returned to teaching and coaching after the Thanksgiving break.

Glenbard South’s AED program had been initiated 18 months earlier. "William Leensvaart, our principal, and the administration of Glenbard Township District 87 were very proactive on this issue," said Karris. "With a student body of 7,500 in four facilities, they figured it was only a matter of time before a student with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or another undiagnosed heart problem would experience sudden cardiac arrest." As it turns out, the first beneficiary of the school-site AED program was an adult staff member.

"I’m feeling good," said Artman. "I’m certainly happy that the people in our building had the foresight to have this equipment. After all, our building is open 365 days a year and thousands of people pass through here. Emergencies like mine are bound to happen."