Matt Cobb nearly lost his life Nov. 30, 2020, when he went into sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 20. His life was saved by two coworkers who performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took over.
Doctors told his parents, Joe and Andrea Cobb, he had a 50% chance of survival. Matt Cobb spent two weeks in the hospital and had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator placed under his skin to monitor his heart rate.
The Cobbs, who are Winter Garden residents, have made it their mission to put automated external defibrillators for public access at schools and areas where large crowds gather. They created the nonprofit Matt’s Mission, which raises awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and raises funds to purchase and donate AEDs.
The latest donation was made Monday, Jan. 23, to the city of Winter Garden. The AED will be affixed to one of the brick columns at the downtown pavilion in downtown Winter Garden.
Fire Chief JoJo Gainza Jr. was on hand to receive the donation Monday.
“Joe and (Andrea) reached out to me because they had a desire to be able to have public access to an AED (and) they wanted to donate one to the city,” Gainza said. “We’ve developed this communication and this friendship and this common desire to want to provide public AEDs for because it’s important. … Just recently during an NFL football game we had an athlete who suffered some sort of cardiac event. It was good CPR and an AED that revived him.
“(The Cobbs) mentioned they come (to the farmers market) on the weekends and there are a lot of people, they thought it would be a … great place to have an AED.”
The device should be in place within a few weeks, Gainza said.
Winter Garden has AEDs placed throughout the city, but they are designed for city employee use.
SINCE ITS INCEPTION
The Cobbs created Matt’s Mission to increase citizens’ chances of survival in the event of sudden cardiac arrest in public settings in West Orange County.
“Our original idea was to go to sports teams, and we’re still doing that, because Matthew played baseball, but now it’s expanded … and we’re trying to expand to public access,” Joe Cobb said.
Since Matt’s Mission was created, the Cobbs have raised more than $24,000 and have donated more than 20 AEDs to schools and club baseball teams.
“At the schools, we’re donating to the sports teams that do not have them already,” Joe Cobb said. “West Orange (High) had one at the softball fields, so we donated to the baseball fields. Olympia High didn’t have one on the fields, just one in the school itself.”
The devices need to be closer to the fields though, he said.
“If you get a defibrillator shock within the first minute, you have a 90% chance of survival,” Joe Cobb said. “Every minute after that it decreases 7 to 10%.”
“That’s what this is all about — trying to get this out here in places like this where people are out here every weekend so people have access to it,” he said. “(First responders) have a great response time getting to these calls, but getting there takes time.”
Just a few weeks ago, Damar Hamlin made headlines when the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety went into sudden cardiac arrest during an NFL game. Gainza said an AED was immediately available, which was beneficial to his survival.
“We want everyone to have that access,” Joe Cobb said.
Matt Cobb’s sister, Lauren Cobb, works in the cardiac field as a result of his ordeal. She is the heart screening director for the nonprofit Who We Play For. Matt Cobb works for his father at Consolidated Pipe & Supply in Orlando.