Puyallup Herald

Special donation to city could save student lives

School Resource Officer Mark Ketter, from left, Tim Hannah and Mayor John Palmer pose for a photo during the City Council Meeting on Feb. 13. The council accepted the donation from Jamie's Heart Foundation.
School Resource Officer Mark Ketter, from left, Tim Hannah and Mayor John Palmer pose for a photo during the City Council Meeting on Feb. 13. The council accepted the donation from Jamie's Heart Foundation. aneedles@puyallupherald.com

Officer Mark Ketter has one goal: to keep students safe.

As a school resource officer with the Puyallup Police Department, Ketter spends every day alongside children in the Puyallup School District.

“I have one primary job function and that is to keep our kids safe, above everything,” he said. “Whether that be safe from others, from themselves, and I guess in some cases (any) medical issues they may have.”

And now, thanks to a recent donation, it’ll be easier for Ketter to make every second count.

Jamie’s Heart Foundation, a Puyallup-based nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to children diagnosed with congenital heart disease, donated a portable automated external defibrillator (AED) to the city of Puyallup to be used by Ketter. The defibrillator is used to treat sudden cardiac arrest by sending an electric shock to the heart.

“We have asked that this (defibrillator) be issued to the school resource officer who has frequent contact with children in schools (and) could potentially be the first person on the scene of a child who experiences a heart-related medical emergency,” Jamie’s Heart Foundation founder Tim Hannah said.

Hannah started Jamie’s Heart Foundation in 2007 after his daughter, Jamie, died in December 2006. Jamie was born with a rare congenital heart defect, Corrected Transposition of the Great Vessels.

The family was in Maui, Hawaii when Jamie’s left ventricle failed. She was 2 years old.

“While an AED did not save my daughter’s life that night, what I do remember so vividly was the bit of hope and relief I had as a dad when I saw that (Maui) police officer arrive with an AED in his hand,” Hannah said at the Puyallup City Council meeting on February 14.

Hannah, who lives in Puyallup and whose foundation is based in Puyallup, hopes that the donated defibrillator will help officers involved in any life-threatening situations.

“My desire is for all schools and and police officers in Puyallup to have readily available an AED and the hope to potentially save a life,” Hannah said.

This is the department's seventh defibrillator. Sergeants carry the defibrillators, but Ketter is the first resource officer to have one readily available. It rides shotgun in his patrol car.

"This is a gift of life that I can take with me,” Ketter said. “I hope that I never have to use it, but if I do, I’m very thankful that we have it.”

Allison Needles: 253-597-8507, @herald_allison
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