The Via Foundation's Quarterly Newsletter. A one-page, informative, quick read, with fun facts, lifesaving stories, and some info on current legal AED issues. Plus a cute baby photo!

Great Samaritan Saves a Life!

A doctor is paid to be in the right place at the right time, but it’s a rare when a doctor has the same fortune off the clock. In May of 2010, anesthesiologist Ruth Rodgers and her husband Andy were approaching the finish line of the 12K San Francisco Bay to Breakers race when Andy saw a man collapse in front of them. Suffering cardiac arrest, victim Ken Byk had crossed the line and suddenly fell to the ground. Ruth’s instincts kicked in, and she immediately initiated attempts to resuscitate an unconscious Ken.

Ruth, with the help of others, performed CPR while waiting approximately fifteen minutes for paramedics to arrive. Upon their arrival, she immediately used an AED to shock Ken’s heart back to a detectable rhythm. She was also able to administer fluids and epinephrine to him via an IV. Several people on scene questioned Ken’s ability to survive and regain a consistent heartbeat. However, Ruth felt confident that if Ken had just completed a race, his heart could be revived. After another fifteen minutes of continued CPR and defibrillator shocks, EMTs felt it was time to transport Ken to the nearest hospital.

The next day, Ruth called the ERs of more than five area hospitals, but none had records of Ken. Newspapers reported no stories of the event, and she wondered if he had died.  Ken didn't die. He survived and made a full recovery, spending the next year looking for the woman who saved him. All he had to go on was a fuzzy picture captured during his cardiac event. Ken was unable to locate Ruth until the following year’s Bay to Breakers when a new picture, with Ruth’s race number, emerged. Ken and Ruth reunited and commemorated the event that forged their connection by running the 2012 Bay to Breakers together.


This year, Ken, Ruth, and twenty-five family members and supporters ran the race to celebrate Ken’s life and Ruth’s actions. After the run, Ruth was honored by The Via Foundation, receiving the Foundation’s inaugural Great Samaritan Award in honor of her heroic life-saving efforts. Via also donated an AED to an organization of Ruth’s choosing.

Bob's Legal Corner

Perhaps you find yourself wondering, “What are the current state laws regarding AED use in schools?” California law does not presently mandate AEDs in schools, however the legislature is considering a bill (AB 939) that would authorize schools to:
  • provide CPR training to students and employees;
  • acquire and maintain at least one AED; and
  • solicit and receive non-state funds for such purposes.
Good Samaritan protection covering the use (or non-use) of an AED would be extended to school districts and employees. The bill would require only voluntary school employees to be designated as “AED volunteers" and act as responders when a potential cardiac emergency arises.

Schools that acquire an AED are encouraged to place the AED in a centralized location on campus and have the device available at all school-sponsored athletic events.

Fun Facts

  • The Via Foundation manages over 750 AEDs in 22 countries!
  • There are seven different AED models recommended for public access. Via teams up with all of them!
  • Good Samaritan Laws protect a you as long as you don't do anything grossly negligent or outside the scope of your training. So as long as you don't try an emergency trachestomy with a ballpoint pen, you are safe when helping others!
  • Cathy, Via's director of operations, drinks more Diet Coke than water every day. This is not recommended at home.
  • Via's official mascot is Baby Alex (pictured above). You can find her at most of our Sidewalk CPR events, Mock Shock events, and AED drills. At 10 months, she is the youngest person to know how to do hands-only CPR and use an AED. I wouldn't count on her to save your life, however. She has a pretty short attention span.
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