AED Under Lock and Key Leads to Lawsuit

October 2, 2007­–NAPLES, FL–The family of a man who died on the campus of The Community School of Naples last spring is suing the school, stating that an automated external defibrillator (AED) that could have saved the man’s life was locked in the nurse’s office.

Anthony Hiller, 38, died at the school April 12th of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and could have been saved if the AED had been accessible, according to the negligence lawsuit filed Sept. 26 in Collier Circuit Court.

The suit contends the school was negligent because it didn’t appropriately train its staff to respond to cardiac emergency; it failed to provide adequate and appropriate notice to staff, students and faculty to the locations of the AEDs; it failed to put an AED in places where a cardiac emergency was most likely to occur, like the field house; and it failed to ensure the AEDs were accessible at all times, including outside normal school hours.

The suit, which asks for a jury trial, seeks an unspecified amount of damages in excess of $15,000.

Anthony Hiller was playing basketball at The Community School when he went into cardiac arrest in the school’s field house. According to the lawsuit, it was Hiller’s practice to play with his children, George and Anna, after school in the field house and take them home.

Two calls were placed to 9-1-1 by bystanders who responded to staff members’ calls for help, the lawsuit alleges. School staff members also began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The 9-1-1 dispatcher began giving instructions, and one of the questions was whether the school had an AED to resuscitate Hiller. Staff members said they had an AED and sent Hiller’s son, George, to the school nurse’s office to get one.

“George quickly ran to the nurse’s office, but she had left for the day and locked the AED in her office preventing George from gaining access to the device that would have saved his father’s life,” according to the suit.

After returning from the nurse’s office, George Hiller was sent by staff to the athletic fields to see if one of the coaches had access to an AED or a key to the nurse’s office. “Precious minutes were lost in a frantic hunt for an AED or a key to the locked nurse’s office,” according to the suit.

Ten minutes after 9-1-1 was called, the fire department arrived, but it was too late to save Hiller.

-Naples Daily News

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