PUTNAM COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – A medical emergency at a local school is spotlighting the importance of CPR and AED training, showing just how important every second is when it comes to cardiac arrest.

Gryffin Cavender, a third grader at Scott Teays Elementary School, was in gym class when he went into cardiac arrest on Wednesday, Oct. 18. His mother said it was the scariest phone call for a parent to receive.

He was taken to CAMC Women’s and Children’s Hospital where he received immediate care, and was then transferred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus where he was diagnosed with a heart condition called “hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.”

While he’s now at home recovering from surgery, his mother said the actions of the school’s staff and first responders made all the difference in saving her son’s life.

In a letter to them she wrote, “While it has been a very difficult two weeks, we are now highly aware of how critical every second is in a situation like Gryffin’s for this outcome to have been possible.”

The family continued to thank everyone who had a hand in saving Gryffin’s life including the Maura Rae Kuhl Foundation who worked to make AEDs in local schools more readily available. This is something that Teays Valley Firefighter and EMT, Christopher Smith, said can make all the difference.

“AEDs and CPR early on is very very important,” Smith said. “Anybody that is in any type of situation where you’re going to be around a group of people or responsible for other people it would be great to have first aid and CPR and get to know how to use the AEDs.” 

Smith said organizations such as the American Heart Association and Red Cross offer CPR and AED training for those interested in being certified.

A GoFundMe set up to help the Cavender family has raised over $6,000 so far. The family said a portion of those funds will go to assist a school in purchasing an AED that doesn’t have one.