KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Central High School student is alive today thanks to a quick-thinking coach, some training and a piece of medical equipment.
An automated external defibrillator, or AED, was used to resuscitate Hunter Helton after he collapsed at basketball practice on Monday.
Helton is alive and well in large part because his school had an AED. In many surrounding counties the device is present in nearly every school and an East Tennessee Children's Hospital initiative is working to ensure that all schools here in Knox County have one of these life saving devices.
Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam's Memory) is a program through Children's Hospital that provides AEDs and training to schools in East Tennessee.
"It's a very simple machine that has a huge impact," said Craig Kendall with Project Adam.
The program was started in East Tennessee just two years ago and they have donated 13 of these life-saving devices to area schools and trained many others, including the nurses at Central High School.
"We want to be able to get out into the community, educate people, educate the students, the staff of the school, and ultimately get them their AEDs so that they have everything they need in instance of sudden cardiac arrest," Kendall explained.
Tennessee passed a law in 2010 for schools to install AEDs in or near the gym. The law was passed after 13-year-old Tanner Jameson collapsed during a basketball game in at Eagleton Middle School in Maryville. He didn't survive.
Three years later, it was nearly the exact same situation, but a very different outcome for Hunter.
"These are actively saving lives. As the case [with Hunter], having these is essential," Kendall said.
In Sevier, Anderson and Blount Counties, every school has an AED and many of the high schools have multiple.
In Loudon County, both of the high schools have them and so do four other schools in the county.
Central High School, where Hunter goes to school, is one of the 28 schools in Knox County with AEDs. Project Adam is working to outfit every school.
"The goal is to be Knox County-wide, absolutely, starting with Knox County and then going to surrounding counties and eventually across Tennessee," Kendall said.
And after the scare with Hunter, Kendall said he's even more passionate about installing AEDs everywhere.
"The case with Hunter hits all too close to home because Hunter is a kid from just down the street. He played baseball with my son, I've coached him," said Kendall.