Submitted by SCAFoundation on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 12:00am

SAN DIEGO--A piece of equipment saved the life of an El Cajon high school student, and now his family is pushing for all schools to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) on campus.

Last September, Jacob Huerta was in his English class at Granite Hills High School when he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was only 15 years old.

"The nurse came with an AED and the next time I woke up, I was in the hospital," said Jacob, who also suffers from seizures.

After the incident on campus, he was in the hospital for a month. Doctors eventually implanted a defibrillator/pacemaker to regulate his heart, something very unusual for someone so young.

"It's always frightening … to know you're going to go to the hospital, and not know the conclusion when you get there," said Jacob's father, Richard Huerta.

Every school in the Grossmont Union High School District has an AED on campus, but it is not required by California law.

Richard Huerta does not want to think what could have happened if an AED was not nearby.

"Jacob probably wouldn't be sitting here right now," he said.

Project Heart Beat, a local nonprofit organization, has been working with the Huertas and is encouraging every school to have an AED. The equipment is now cutting-edge, giving the user step-by-step instructions.

"A person's chance of survival has greatly increased sometimes up to 75 percent. Unfortunately, when there's no AED available, you're down to about 2 percent," said paramedic Dan Beebe, Project Heart Beat's training center coordinator.

The principal of Granite Hills High said the school has only used the AED once -- on Jacob -- since the school bought them several years ago.

The Huertas said once is enough to make it worth it.

According to Beebe, an AED costs around $2,000.

Find out more about San Diego Project Heart Beat by going to

SOURCE: San Diego Union Tribune