Nurse Honors Late Father Thanks to Support from AdventHealth Foundation

Kara Baker’s mission is to provide automated external defibrillators in public places.

Robbin Clutters, AdventHealth Rocky Mountain Region
Nurse Honors Late Father Thanks to Support from AdventHealth Foundation
Kara Baker (right), registered nurse at AdventHealth Littleton, with Ed Walsh, her late father, who passed away after suffering cardiac arrest in 2018. [Photo: courtesy of Kara Baker]

“Someone get an AED!” 

Those are the words AdventHealth Littleton registered nurse Kara Baker can still remember shouting on September 8, 2018. She was with her parents, watching her daughter play soccer on the fields outside a Colorado, United States, elementary school, when she saw her father collapse. He was in the middle of sudden cardiac arrest. Baker started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but her cries for an automated external defibrillator (AED) were in vain. While there was an AED inside the school, since it was the weekend, the building was locked.

“A brick wall stood between my dad and a potentially life-saving device,” Baker said. “The irony is my dad spent a large chunk of his life dedicated to placing AEDs inside of elementary schools. It was his passion to have these life-saving devices available to the public.” 

Baker’s father was taken to AdventHealth Littleton, where the staff, including Baker’s own coworkers in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, worked tirelessly on him. Despite everyone’s best efforts, Ed Walsh passed away later that day.  

“My father’s greatest fear was that he would pass away at my workplace,” Baker said. “Since his death, I knew I had to show I was going to be OK, that this tragedy was not going to define me, but instead teach me how to take a difficult situation and turn it into an opportunity to carry on his legacy.”

A Legacy of Lifesaving

From that moment on, Baker made it her mission to bring 24/7 accessible outdoor AEDs to the community. When she presented her idea to the AdventHealth Littleton Foundation, they knew they wanted to support Baker’s life-saving work. They generously donated nearly US$54,000 to fund nine SaveStations outside of Littleton public schools. On December 18, 2023, surrounded by her family, friends, and colleagues, Baker cut the ribbon on the first of these devices at Euclid Middle School.  

“My hope is that we will have the resources available in our community to prevent what happened to my dad from happening to someone else,” Baker said. “Whether it be a student at recess playing basketball, a community member using the track, or someone walking their dog around the block, they will all have a chance of survival in the event of a cardiac emergency.” 

The technology built into the SaveStations allows for 24/7 monitoring, including taking a photograph when the cabinet is opened. The stations are also climate-controlled, keeping the AED warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The SaveStations light up at night and are clearly marked for public use. When the AED is activated, the only thing that someone has to do is follow the voice instructions to potentially save a life. 

“Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, no matter their age,” Baker said. “Be prepared. Be educated. You never know whose life you might be saving.”

For Baker, this is just the beginning of her work. She is working to get even more SaveStations outside public parks and more schools, including the elementary school where her father collapsed. 

“Honor those who have passed with how you move forward. I’ve lived by this saying to get me through the grief,” Baker said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Mid-America Union Conference news site. Robbin Clutters is manager of communications and public relations at AdventHealth in the Rocky Mountain Region.

Robbin Clutters, AdventHealth Rocky Mountain Region