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Gift to Boca Ciega is a real life saver

Matt Bostic's alma mater now has a life-saving device given to honor his memory.

Called an automatic external defibrillator, it's used to restart a person's heart after cardiac arrest _ and Boca Ciega High School is apparently the first Pinellas County High School to have such a machine.

Bostic died last year when he collapsed after running an impromptu, after-work footrace in his company's parking lot. A football and soccer player at Boca Ciega, Bostic, 21, was an account executive at Global Access Unlimited.

An ongoing account called the Matt Bostic Memorial Scholarship and Research Fund paid for the $3,700 defibrillator, which fire and rescue officials say can easily be operated by lay persons.

The goal is to put one in as many Pinellas high schools as possible, said Patty Latimer, Bostic's mother.

"We're going to do as many as we can," Latimer said.

Paramedics carry defibrillators, which have sensors to place on the chest of a heart attack victim. The sensors read what's happening to the heart and the defibrillator will deliver a shock if necessary to restart the organ.

"It's really designed for the lay public," said Todd Livingston, the Emergency Medical Services coordinator for St. Petersburg Fire Rescue.

"It actually is more useful for the teachers than the students. If there's a cardiac arrest, the majority of the time it's going to be a teacher," Livingston said. "Heart ailments you typically don't have in the kids. But it can obviously come into play with sports injuries, too."

Leslie Littell is president of the Largo-based Altra Medical Group, where the Bostic fund purchased the Heartstream AED.

She said Boca Ciega is the only high school in Pinellas to have one, although the school district placed one in its administration building. In addition, Littell said, the district bought 16 training devices to teach CPR and AED techniques to students.

"They are in a leadership position," Littell said.

Boca Ciega's AED will be kept in the gym, accessible to staff both on athletic fields and in the school.

Certified American Heart Association trainers taught Boca Ciega coaches and other staff members how to use the device, said Christina Oullette, coordinator of the school's medical magnet program.

"We're really fortunate to have it," Oullette said.

"It's an awesome thing and it's so easy to use. It's unbelievably easy to use," she said.

The devices operate with a five-year battery and have a flasher to indicate the battery is active, Latimer said.

In addition to buying defibrillators, the Bostic fund's goal is to provide two $1,000 scholarships each year to a Boca Ciega football player and soccer player.

People in the community contribute to the fund, and Bostic's company has organized a fundraiser, Latimer said.