A fatal missed opportunity

Kim’s teenaged son died of cardiac arrest. He could have lived.
Kim Ruethers

“Mom, do you want to come to practice?” Kim declined, “If you don’t get your math mark up, it will be the last one you ever go to.”  

It was Tuesday after the May 2012 long weekend.  

Brock left for the school gym at about 6:50 p.m.  

At 7:25, Kim received a phone call. Brock had collapsed face-down and was having trouble breathing. 

“His friends just thought he was joking,” Kim recalls. “One of his friends turned him over when they noticed that he was turning blue.” They called 9-1-1. 

If you see someone suddenly collapse or unresponsive, don’t hesitate:  

  • Call 9-1-1 and shout for an AED.  
  • Push hard and fast in the centre of the chest.  
  • Use an AED. 

Over five minutes had passed before bystanders were instructed to start CPR. An AED was brought out, but wasn’t used. “None of them were really informed about how critically important it is to apply an AED,” Kim says. “And so, the AED just sat there on the floor beside Brock while he died.”  

Watch Kim Ruether recount what happened on that fateful day.

Kim believes Brock’s death could have been prevented if someone had used the AED as soon as he collapsed.  

Since then, she has been on a mission to create heart-safe schools across Canada, beginning with her home of Alberta. Kim won’t rest until AEDs are mandatory in every school. She knows the life-saving power of CPR and using an AED – they can double the chance of survival. 

As partners in this mission, Heart & Stroke launched CardiacCrash™, a resuscitation program that introduces CPR and AED skills in schools and workplaces. In 2023, Heart & Stroke trained over 450,000 people in emergency cardiovascular care and first aid.  

More than 10 years later, Kim is still a tireless advocate. She not only wants to see an AED in every school across the nation – she wants to equip the public on how to use them. “It’s incredibly important to know how to do CPR and use an AED to save that precious life of that person that you love.”