Public Health

Nurse Honors Late Father Thanks to Support from the AdventHealth Littleton Foundation

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Nurse Honors Late Father Thanks to Support from the AdventHealth Littleton Foundation

By Robin Clutters

“Someone get an AED!”

Those are words AdventHealth Littleton nurse Kara Baker can still remember shouting on September 8, 2018. She was with her mom and dad, watching her daughter play soccer on the fields outside of a Douglas County elementary school when she saw her father collapse. He was in the middle of a sudden cardiac arrest. Kara started CPR, but her cries for an automated external defibrillator (AED) were in vain. While there was an AED inside the school, since it was a Saturday, the building was locked.

“A brick wall stood between my dad and a potentially lifesaving device,” said Kara. “The irony is my dad spent a large chunk of his life dedicated to placing AEDs inside elementary schools. It was his passion to have these lifesaving devices available to the public.”

Kara’s father was taken to AdventHealth Littleton, where the staff, including Kara’s own coworkers in the Cath Lab, worked tirelessly on him. Despite everyone’s best efforts, Ed Walsh passed away later that day.

“My father’s greatest fear was that he would pass away at my workplace,” said Kara. “Since his death, I knew I had to show my dad I was going to be OK, that this tragedy was not going to define me, but instead teach me how to take a difficult situation and turn it into an opportunity to carry on his legacy.”

From that moment on, Kara made it her mission to bring 24/7 accessible outdoor AEDs to the community. When she presented her idea to the AdventHealth Littleton Foundation, they knew they wanted to support Kara’s lifesaving work. They generously donated nearly $54,000 to fund nine SaveStations outside of Littleton Public Schools. On Friday, December 18, surrounded by her family, friends, and colleagues, Kara cut the ribbon on the first of these devices at Euclid Middle School.

“My hope is that we will have the resources available in our community to prevent what happened to my dad from happening to someone else,” said Kara. “Whether it be a student at recess playing basketball, a community member using the track, or someone walking their dog around the block, they will all have a chance of survival in the event of a cardiac emergency.”

Besides Euclid Middle School, SaveStations have been installed at Powell Middle School, Goddard Middle School, Arapahoe High School, Heritage High School, Littleton High School, Littleton Stadium and Centennial Stadium. The technology built into the devices allows for 24/7 monitoring, and they will take a picture when the cabinet is opened. They are also climate-controlled, keeping the AED warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The SaveStations light up at night and are clearly marked for public use. When the AED is activated, all someone needs to do is follow the voice instructions to potentially save a life.

“Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, no matter their age," said Kara. “Be prepared. Be educated. You never know whose life you might be saving.”

For Kara, this is just the beginning of her work. She is actively in the process of trying to get even more SaveStations outside of public parks and more schools, including the Douglas County elementary school where her father collapsed.

“Honor those who have passed with how you move forward. I’ve lived by this saying to get me through the grief,” said Kara.

You can see more of Kara’s story on 9News, Denver7, Fox31, and CBS News Colorado.

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