Melinda Truax, mother of Matthew Truax, speaks at a ribbon cutting for the unveiling of a newly installed AED at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Melinda Truax, mother of Matthew Truax, speaks at a ribbon cutting for the unveiling of a newly installed AED at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

‘Call, push, shock’: New AED is memorial to teen at Meadowdale Playfields

The AED is dedicated to Matthew Truax, 16, who died of cardiac arrest at his soccer practice in 2013.

LYNNWOOD — In September 2013, Matthew Truax collapsed at the Meadowdale High School track.

He went into cardiac arrest and died immediately, five days before his 17th birthday.

On the 10th anniversary of his death, the Truax family donated the first outdoor automated external defibrillator SaveStation in Lynnwood to the field where they lost their son, at 16700 66th Ave. W.

People gather to look at the new AED available for emergency use at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People gather to look at the new AED available for emergency use at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“I want parents to know that my son Matthew had more than one sports physical and it’s just not enough,” Melinda Truax said Friday. “He never had a symptom until his sudden cardiac arrest.”

Firefighters, city officials and community members gathered at the playfield Friday to celebrate the device’s unveiling.

Next to the AED SaveStation, located outside the playfield’s bathrooms, is a plaque dedicated to Matthew Truax.

“While I truly hope this station will never need to be used, we are comforted and we are hopeful in knowing its potential to prevent another family from experiencing that devastating loss,” Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell said. “In any emergency, every second counts.”

A sign in memory of Matthew Truax is mounted next to the new AED at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A sign in memory of Matthew Truax is mounted next to the new AED at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Melinda Truax said there are three things people can do when someone goes unresponsive: call, push, shock.

Cardiac arrest happens when an electrical malfunction in the heart causes an irregular heartbeat. The heart can’t pump blood to vital organs. An AED delivers a shock to the heart to re-establish rhythm.

In the event of cardiac arrest, call 911, initiate CPR, and use an AED, if available.

The Meadowdale AED comes with a QR code with instructions on how to perform CPR and use the AED until medical personnel arrive.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes during sports and exercise, Frizzell said Friday. Since her son’s death, Melinda Truax has volunteered with the Nick of Time Foundation to screen over 2,700 high school students for undiagnosed heart issues. Over 600 students needed a followup appointment.

It often takes 5 to 10 minutes for medical responders to arrive on scene, said Kris Georgen, medical services officer for South County Fire. Those minutes can be the difference between life or death.

“We’re doing everything we can on our end, as fast as we can, and we can’t get much faster,” Georgen said. “If we can empower our community, our citizens and especially our youth that are going to be here, they’re going to be the fastest runners to come get this machine and not be afraid to put it to work.”

Community members gather to cut the ribbon for the new AED available at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Community members gather to cut the ribbon for the new AED available at the Meadowdale Athletic Complex on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Meadowdale addition comes a month after an AED was installed at Memorial Stadium in Everett. While these stations can be found in some public buildings, they are rarely found outdoors.

The Truax family has worked with Nick of Time and the DP Foundation to launch Project 100, a group of volunteer medical professionals who advocate for installing AEDs in outdoor and public recreation spaces.

City of Lynnwood spokesperson Nathan McDonald said Lynnwood is “exploring some options” to add more AEDs to the city’s outdoor fields.

“To me it’s not a day of mourning, it’s a day of celebration,” Melinda Truax said. “Because our community will be safer with the addition of this SaveStation.”

Want to save a life?

South County Fire offers classes that teach CPR, how to use an AED and other basic emergency skills. Register for classes at southsnofire.org/community-programs/classes/act-first-aid-class.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Matthew Truax was practicing soccer at the Meadowdale Playfields when he collapsed on the field. He collapsed while at the Meadowdale High School track.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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