WATAUGA -- Vanessa Seale is blessed with co-workers who know how to handle cardiac arrest.
She said she also owes her life to Laura Friend, a North Richland Hills resident who campaigned for a state law that put automated external defibrillators into every public school in Texas.
A 30-year-old health teacher and coach at Watauga Middle School, Seale collapsed in the school's gym in April from sudden cardiac arrest.
School nurse Samantha Perry said she was leaving the faculty lounge and was alarmed to see students running out of her office and taking a wheelchair with them.
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"My receptionist said, 'Sam, it's Vanessa,'" Perry said. "I took off running to the gym."
Principal Shannon Houston arrived seconds before Perry and was turning Seale on her side. Perry said she felt for a pulse and found none, then sent Houston for a defibrillator as she started CPR.
Houston said the defibrillator -- one of three in the school -- was in a wall-mounted case in a hall, about 50 feet from where Seale had collapsed.
"It was right outside the gym," she said. "I've never run so hard."
Perry and coach Todd Tolbert performed CPR until the defibrillator was attached to Seale and told her rescuers that she needed to be shocked.
Seale said the machine is "pretty dummy-proof" and does practically everything for its user.
"It starts speaking to you the moment you open it," she said. "If there's not a heartbeat, it says shock is advised."
Seale said all a user has to do is push a big red button, then stand clear.
Seale needed two shocks before her heart started again.
Data collected by the defibrillator was given to a cardiologist, who determined that she has a previously undiagnosed condition called long QT syndrome, Seale said.
She collapsed once in 2004, but her heart didn't stop.
"It's genetic, so I've had it forever," Seale said.
She now has an internal defibrillator resting just under the skin and connected to her heart.
Friend's daughter, Sarah, died July 14, 2004, from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a previously undetected heart condition that struck the girl as she ran up a ramp at NRH
Friend's new campaign is to train people to use defibrillators.
On May 7, "at an in-service workday for Watauga Middle School, I had the pleasure to help certify 70 staff members in CPR/AED training," Friend said. "Vanessa Seale ... was one of our instructors."
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620