GENEVA — Linette Derminer pushes a button on an automatic electronic defibrillator and the machine comes to life.
The robotic voice walks her through the potentially life-saving procedure of assisted cardiopulmonary resuscitation as people look on, trying to keep up with the lesson on hearts stopping and restarting.
The founder of the Kids Endangered Now (KEN) Heart Foundation, Derminer demonstrated the basics of resuscitation to students at Geneva High School last week, the same school her son, Ken Derminer, would have graduated from years ago.
Ken Derminer died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2000 as he participated in a football clinic at the former Geneva High School. He was 17 years old.
The KEN Heart Foundation raises awareness and prevention of sudden cardiac arrest in youth and athletes by providing automatic external defibrillators (portable electric shock devices that restore a proper heart rhythm) to local organizations and locations and, in conjunction with the Geneva Medical Center Community Outreach Nurses Program, provides training and heart health education across the region. Derminer teaches the class at every high school in the county twice a year.
“The American Heart Association pushes for teenagers to be certified before high school graduation or at the time they get their driver’s license,” she said. “These kids are a line of defense when it comes to CPR.”
Derminer, who taught 55 students over two days in Chris Clemen’s physical education class, said SCA is the leading cause of fatalities on school property.
“A kid dies every three days of SCA,” she said. “When you know how to do CPR, when you know how to use a defibrillator, you are giving a person a fighting chance.”
Geneva High School juniors Hannah Ruple, Chase Singleton, Taylor Maiher, Grace Lillie, Kimberly Tirado and Crystal Spikes took turns using the AED, following the prompts and pushing heartbeats to the tune of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive.” The students will be CPR certified in their physical education class.
Derminer said the outreach program provides education to 600 students in Ashtabula County each year. In 2012, the foundation’s defibrillator/AED Grant Program benefited the Jefferson Midget Youth Football League, the Lilly of the Valley Church in Geneva and Jefferson Area High School.
Research is also a long arm of the foundation, Derminer said, with the collection of approximately 150 to 200 cases of youth related sudden death cases annually from online articles and resources for research and advocacy purposes.
All that outreach needs some funding, and the KEN Heart Foundation held bingo games and Cosmic Bingo every Thursday at the Moose Lodge in Saybrook Township.
For more information on the foundation, Bingo games, or to become a marathon runner, go to www.Kenheart.org or call 866-317-4034.