Sheridan to get life-saving equipment donation on Friday

Automatic defibrillator units coming to all Tacoma elementary schools

3/8/2017 | TACOMA, Washington

​Kiki McBride was just 14 years old when her heart suddenly stopped during basketball practice at Foss High School, and she died.

An immediate electric shock applied to Kiki’s heart might have saved her life, according to her mother, Tamela. Since 2014, the McBrides and other families affected by sudden cardiac arrest have collaborated with the Puget Sound Heart Project, a local non-profit, to put AED units (Automatic External Defibrillator) in every Tacoma school.

Founded by Angela and Patrick Taylor after their nephew Troy suffered cardiac arrest and died at age 14 in 2011, PSHP has so far spent $42,000 on 59 of the portable units, placing them in all Tacoma high and middle schools. The AED unit, once activated, talks you through a cardiac emergency, with visual and recorded voice prompts explaining where to place electrodes and how to operate the unit.

Installation Event

When: Friday, March 10, at noon

What: Installation of an AED at Sheridan Elementary School, 5317 McKinley Ave.

Why: The Puget Sound Heart Project has raised funds to purchase and install AEDs in all 35 Tacoma elementary schools—continuing a multi-year project to place the devices in every Tacoma school.

Who: Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno will speak at the event.

Kiki’s Story

It was the first day of basketball tryouts at Foss High School, Nov. 15, 2005. Kiki’s older sister, Timieka, played basketball at Foss for three years, and that morning both girls had passed physical examinations with flying colors.

A few minutes into basketball practice, Kiki suddenly collapsed and began convulsing. Calls went out to 911 and her family. The coaches immediately began CPR. The McBrides arrived at Foss just in time to see the ambulance with Kiki in it pulling out at high speed, headed for the hospital.

Kiki was pronounced dead a short while later. Her family believes she died in the Foss gym, before the ambulance even got there. The cause of death? A previously undetected heart defect, Anomalous Origin of the Coronary Artery, in which the blood vessel supplying the heart itself is pinched off by surrounding vessels during periods of exertion.

Last June, Tamela and her surviving daughters dedicated a plaque in Kiki’s honor, just above a new AED unit on the wall of Foss High School, scant feet from where Kiki’s life ended 11 years before.

Michelle Birge, now the head coach at Wilson High School, was an assistant at Foss in 2005.

“It changed me forever,” she said. “Every day I have a greater awareness of things beyond my control. And every day, Kiki’s light continues to shine.”