Minnesota Program


The Minnesota State High School League and Medtronic Foundation created Anyone Can Save A Life in 2008 to serve the students, coaches and communities of Minnesota’s 500 member high schools. Anyone Can Save A Life trains coaches and advisors on how to create an emergency action plan. One coach cannot provide a coordinated response alone. The program enlists and empowers students to be a part of the response when an emergency happens.


  • In 2011, the Minnesota State High School League implemented a continuing education policy that requires every coach at every level to complete the Anyone Can Save A Life Elearning module. Since that time, more than 21,000 Minnesota coaches have completed the Anyone Can Save A Life Emergency planning module.
  • In 2012, the 2.0 version of Anyone Can Save A Life was created with a more focused approach to emergency planning and now provides an easy electronic question and answer session that, when completed, creates a sport, level and site specific emergency action plan.
  • The Minnesota State High School League continues to provide support to its 500 member high schools, and to other state high school associations who wish to implement Anyone Can Save A Life. This program provides a coordinated response to every emergency and it does save lives.


  • Teddy Okerstrom Teddy Okerstrom
    Teddy Okerstrom of Wayzata, Minnesota, was participating in his school's summer conditioning program, when he collapsed out on the football field.

    One of his coaches responded to the emergency and began performing CPR while a teammate rushed to bring an automated external defibrillator (AED) onto the field. Teddy’s coaches continued CPR and used the AED to shock Teddy's heart back into normal rhythm just as the ambulance was arriving on the scene. Teddy was rushed to the hospital, where he was stabilized and, during his weeklong stay, had a cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest that monitors his heart and will provide a life-saving shock if needed. Doctors still don't know why this happened to Teddy, but due to the quick thinking and life-saving actions of his coaches, school staff members, and teammates, he is doing very well today.

  • Michael Spillman Michael Spillman
    While participating in a pick-up basketball game on Sept. 17, 2008, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, junior Michael Spillman suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) without warning.

    Michael had been playing during the school's open gym session when he unexpectedly began to walk toward the on-site supervisor, Ross Peterson. Before reaching Peterson, an elementary school physical education teacher, Michael collapsed onto the court.

    Along with Peterson, two student-athletes who were at the open gym responded to the emergency, senior Joel Willenbring and sophomore Demetre Growette. Joel, a certified lifeguard who had been trained in emergency procedures, recalls a feeling of disbelief during the initial moments of the incident as they all went into action immediately. The trio began CPR, yet Michael remained unresponsive. Meanwhile, other players who were in the gym called 911, and the school janitor retrieved an automated external defibrillator (AED). A First Responder arrived at the scene, placed the AED pads on Michael's chest and used it to shock his heart back into normal rhythm. Michael was air-lifted from Cannon Falls High School and woke up while in the helicopter.

    During his stay at Children's Hospital in St. Paul, Michael was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition that results in a thickening of the heart wall. He received a pacemaker. Michael was able to work with the school's basketball team and play on the baseball team thanks to the school’s easily accessible AED and the quick response of his rescuers.

  • Dale Wakasugi Dale Wakasugi
    On Dec. 13, 2007, basketball official Dale Wakasugi collapsed on the court during the second half of a Fridley, Minnesota, home basketball game.

    Fridley junior Lindsey Paradise—who had been trained in CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) in both high school gym class and through her role in the local Police Explorers program—ran out of the stands and supported Dale's head from hitting the court during a seizure. At the conclusion of the seizure, Lindsey and three other individuals, including two nurses, performed four rounds of CPR. Dale still didn't regain a pulse, so they decided to use the AED.

    Athletic Director Dan Roff ran to his office to get an AED, but meanwhile someone had already gotten the one mounted on the wall by the gym entrance. Lindsey and one of the other individuals placed the AED pads on Dale, and they checked for a pulse before administering the shock. They administered the shock, and Dale was breathing and had a heartbeat by the time the paramedics arrived to transport him to the hospital. The doctors told Dale that CPR alone would not have been enough to save him; he truly did need the AED. Lindsey has received much recognition, and quite a few awards. Dale and Lindsey were both honored at a Fridley High School basketball game later in the winter.

  • Alex Larson Alex Larson
    During a home hockey game in January 2008, Faribault, Minnesota, junior forward Alex Larson blocked a slapshot with one minute to play. As he went down, his padding slid into a position so that the puck was able to hit his chest at the precise time to stop his heart.

    It was a one-in-a-million chance: commodio cordis, a sudden blunt impact to the heart at precisely the wrong time. After Alex fell, got up, tried to skate to the bench, and then fell again, the coach, Josh Solem, and trainer, Bryan Voracek, both went out to the ice. Alex's eyes rolled back, he had trouble breathing, and lost consciousness. The trainer had a portable automated external defibrillator (AED) with him and started hooking it up. It was placed on Alex, but before they actually needed to administer the shock, Alex’s heart started up again.

    An ambulance arrived shortly after, and Alex was airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester. He stayed for three or four days recovering from a bruised heart and left lung. He didn't need an internal defibrillator placed into his chest, because it was just a freak timing accident, not a heart defect of any type. He was able to play hockey again at the end of the season, four weeks later, and scored a goal in his first game back on the ice. Alex was chosen to serve as team captain his senior year.

    While the trainer had a portable AED on hand, there is also one in the ice arena, and the school has one inside the gym doors, as well. While it's important to have the AEDs, it's equally important to make sure their batteries are new and make sure the devices are being maintained properly. Within the Faribault school district, the nursing coordinator is in charge of maintaining the AED units.