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Ryan Radermacher North Dakota

The rural Casselton farmer, Ryan Radermacher, was only 45 years old when he experienced a STEMI, the most deadly type of heart attack also known as a widow maker. 

Ryan’s first symptom was heavy sweating followed by not feeling well and shortness of breath, and heat exhaustion.  When his wife, Kim, saw how gray/pale Ryan looked she thought it may be his heart and knew they needed to call 9-1-1.  

Calling 9-1-1 activated a team that worked together in a coordinated effort to quickly connect Ryan with the high-level care needed to open the blocked artery in his heart.

The rapid, well-coordinated response to Ryan’s heart attack exemplifies Mission Lifeline, a collaboration of the American Heart Association to improve response to ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI).

Ryan reflects on the rapid response that saved his life. “It’s pretty amazing,” he says. “From the EKG in my driveway to the stent in the cath lab, it took just 38 minutes. Because of that, I’m here, I’m feeling great and I have no heart damage.

Ryan and Kim willingly share his story to encourage others to know the signs of a heart attack and take action by dialing 9-1-1 at the first sign.  Their hope is more lives will be saved and heart damage prevented as more heart attack patients dial 9-1-1 at the first signs. 

Ryan’s story was recently featured in the Farmer’s Forum. Public Service Announcements (PSA) were filmed at their farm for release later this summer.

Ryan and Kim support the Red River Valley Heart Ball and look forward to enjoying the evening with friends each year.  They have the date saved on their calendars for Saturday, January 31, 2015 at the Holiday Inn, Fargo.  

Libby Char, Hawaii

Despite her extremely busy work schedule as an emergency physician, as the Medical Director for EMS and several of Hawaii’s first responder agencies and the  American Heart Association Hawaii Division Board President Libby Char, M.D. still finds time to support American Heart Association policy efforts to make Hawaii healthier.

She sees the value of using policy change as a way to more quickly and efficiently change public norms that will result in improved public health.  Dr. Char has supported our efforts this year to require all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects, requiring all high school students to receive CPR training prior to graduation, and development of policy aimed at improving Hawaii’s stroke system of care.

Just one example of the great work Char has done was earlier this year when she, along with other AHA volunteer advocates, met with the Hawaii Dept. of Education assistant superintendent of the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, Leila Hayashida, to propose changes to the high school health class curriculum that would require CPR instruction to be included. Completion of a health class is required for graduation.

AHA volunteers also worked with Hawaii Department of Health representatives to provide funding to the DOE to purchase CPR manikins and training equipment for health classes. AHA CPR trainers also taught the DOE’s health class resource teachers in how to implement simple “hands-only” CPR training, so that they can train the classroom instructors.

The AHA’s “hands-only” CPR can be taught in just one class period. Dr. Char believes that every student should receive that life-saving lesson prior to graduation. In places like Seattle where this type of policy has been mandated survival rates from cardiac arrest have risen to above 60 percent, while in Hawaii survival rates remain below the national average of approximately 30 percent. Imagine if every high school student going forward learned CPR in school how many more people in our communities could be prepared to save a life.

Max Stein, Idaho

This month, we wanted to feature and thank our Smokefree Idaho Community Educator, Max Stein.  Max has been working tirelessly in communities across the state to educate individuals and businesses on the harms of secondhand smoke.  Because of his work, Smokefree Idaho has reached an important milestone: more than 100 organizations and businesses have now signed on as endorsers!  He has been out at community events, getting much needed postcards and petition signatures. 

We here at the American Heart Association would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Max and his many hours to Smokefree Idaho!  We couldn’t have made all the progress we have without him!  If you agree with us that everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air and would like to help us make that a reality in your community, email Adrean at adrean.cavener@heart.org.