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Long Island Board Honors Longtime CPR/AED Champion

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Long Island Board of Directors was honored to name Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg as Advocate of the Year. 

Assembly Weisenberg, the legislative champion of the CPR in Schools bill, made it a priority to increase public awareness of the importance of bystander training in CPR and the promotion of the Chain of Survival. Thanks in tremendous part to his support and dedication, the legislation successfully passed both houses and we have taken an important step toward implementing this statewide training. 

No other member of the state legislature has done as much as Harvey Weisenberg to assist victims of sudden cardiac arrest.   Assemblyman Weisenberg was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1989 and is the author of Louis’ Law, which ensures all schools have AEDs on site.  More than 80 lives have been saved thanks to Louis’ Law, named after 14-year old sudden cardiac arrest victim Louis Acompora.

 Assemblyman Weisenberg recently announced his retirement from the NYS Assembly.  Please join us in thanking him for his actions.  His voice has saved lives!

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Do You Live in a HEART Safe Community?

Its Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. Do you know if your community is HEART safe?

The HEART Safe program recognizes communities that meet specific criteria that help increase the potential for saving the lives of individuals who have sudden cardiac arrest through the use of CPR and increased public access to defibrillation.

 Congratulations to Stowe, Bennington and St. Johnsbury for already achieving this distinction.  Designation as a HEART Safe Community represents a coordinated effort by emergency medical services, fire departments, and police departments, as well as other various town departments, schools, and businesses that have committed to saving lives.

Talk to your local rescue and town officials and you can email the Vermont Office of Emergency Medical Services at mike.leyden@state.vt.us for more information. By becoming a HEART Safe Community, your town officials, and citizens will be recognized for taking the time, and making the effort to become an invaluable link in the chain of survival.

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Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good

Ok: It is obvious that I am in my mid-40’s. I actually giggled when I saw this gentleman show up at the Central Maine Heart Walk. Yes, I was one of the first one to get my picture taken. Yes, I FaceTimed my husband so he could see us. Yes, I emailed the picture to all my fellow dorks.

Of course, the Ghostbuster was not the real highlight of the CMHW. The highlight was the 1,200 walkers who raised $125,000 (or more) for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association that beautiful day.

I was there to help my co-workers with the details of the event and to talk to walkers about the American Heart Association’s goal of training all high school graduates in Hands Only CPR. Out of the 100 or so folks who I talked to, no one thought what we were asking was undoable or unreasonable and every single person thought it was imperative that we succeed. No one said "Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!" They just calmly signed postcards to their soon-to-be-elected representatives and said I could call on them to help. They were flabbergasted to hear that we had passed legislation to add Hands Only CPR to the health curriculum only to have it vetoed by the Governor.

I told them that we are going to try again—and this time—succeed. I was really hoping that someone would say: "See you on the other side, Ray." But no one did. Maybe next time.

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Greece Odyssey Academy Keeps the Beat!

Congratulations to Greece Odyssey Academy!  Recently the Rochester area school teamed up with the American Heart and Upstate NY Life Support to provide hands-only CPR training to all students in grades 6-12 and any interested staff members.   As a result, over 1000 people are now trained to be lifesavers!

It all started thanks to the work of Rebecca and Mark Knowles.  To look at their son, Cameron, you wouldn’t know the Greece Odyssey Academy eighth- grader has a heart condition. His own family was unaware until he suffered a pediatric cardiac arrest six years ago. Cameron’s life was saved by his fast-acting parents, who administered CPR until first responders arrived. Since then, Rebecca and Mark have been committed to increasing awareness and prevention of sudden cardiac arrests. 

Greece Odyssey trained all of their students in PE class – in just a matter of days.  Can you imagine how many lifesavers we could have if everyone followed their lead?

Do you know of a school district that is ready to teach CPR to their students?   To learn more about CPR in Schools and the status of the state legislation, contact Julianne.hart@heart.org

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Gracie Soultanian, Massachusetts

After hearing Michael Ellsessar’s story, a 16-year-old who died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2010 after getting hit in the chest during a football game, Gracie Soultanian, then 12 now 13, decided she needed to do something. There are no warning signs for sudden cardiac arrest, allowing any athlete to be at risk. Gracie felt that it was important to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and funds to help schools and athletic fields to have AEDs and for coaches and students to know CPR.

Through essay contests, grants and fundraising, Gracie has raised more than $5,000 to purchase AEDs to be placed at playing fields, town beaches and town pools in the Ayer-Shirley area. In fall 2013, Gracie began her Youth Venture project, “Heartstrong”, to help educate her community about sudden cardiac arrest and to promote CPR in schools. She has shared her story at the American Heart Association’s annual Heart on the Hill event, testified in front of the Joint Committee of Public Health in support of AEDs in School and has conducted a CPR training for coaches in her community. She was recently honored as one of our Heart of Gold. The Heart of Gold Award is presented each year to a member or group of members of the Central Massachusetts’ community who have enhanced the quality of life in the region and have played a significant role in advancing the mission of the American Heart Association.

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Join us October 4th at the Oahu Heart & Stroke Walk

As you may know the Oahu Heart & Stroke Walk was originally scheduled for August 9th but as Tropical Storm Iselle was bearing down on Hawaii with heavy rains and high winds we decided to postpone the walk for the safety of our volunteers and attendees.

We have rescheduled the Oahu Heart & Stroke Walk for Saturday October 4th.

The Heart & Stroke Walk celebrates those who have made lifestyle changes and encourages many more to take the pledge to live healthier lifestyles while raising the dollars needed to fund life-saving research and initiatives in our local community.

Come walk with us Saturday, October 4th at Kapi`olani Park. The festival opens at 6:30 a.m. and the Walk kicks off at 7:30 a.m.

This free family event includes:

  • A health fair & preventative screenings
  • Kids' Zone
  • CPR training
  • FREE heart-healthy snacks & beverages!

Each year more than 3,200 people in Hawaii die from heart disease. We, the American Heart Association, want to lower that number and that is why we work to raise awareness and money for research. This event is free but donations are always welcome.

Be sure to stop by the advocacy booth and sign a postcard in support of adding CPR training in Hawaii high schools. If you are interesting in helping at the advocacy booth please click here to email Don Weisman.

We hope to see you on October 4th!

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Back to School - Join Us As We Advocate for Healthy Policies for Our Children

written by Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah

Like many of you, I look forward to the fall season! Truth be told I’m not a huge fan of the heat and I have always loved Utah’s cooler fall climate. Fall brings with it many wonderful things – the excitement of professional, college, and high school football, little-league soccer, shopping sales, and the beginning of a new school year.

This year was a completely new one for me as a parent as our oldest daughter began kindergarten! It was a bittersweet moment as we helped her get ready that first morning and watched her board the bus for her first day of school. Her excitement was contagious as she anxiously got to her seat and began waving to us through the school bus window. We continued to wave as the bus pulled down the street and out of sight.

I can only imagine how many times this same scene played out across the state as many of you watched children or grandchildren leave for school.

As parents – or even relatives – to these young children, we want the very best for them. We want them to grow up in a world full of opportunities, where they can fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Whatever the situation, wherever they might be, we want to make sure that children are provided with the best, and safest, environment possible.

This became very apparent to me this past year as – like many of you – we heard tragic stories of young children who were hurt or killed on their way to and from school. The stories pull at our heartstrings as we realize how important safe routes to school are and just how fragile life can be. It is the recognition of the importance of life that fuels us as advocates for the American Heart Association. Together, we have done amazing things!

Just last year we rallied together to encourage the Department of Health to create a new recognition system that identifies those hospitals in the state who strive for the very best in patient care when it comes to treating those who suffer a stroke. Many of you joined with us at the state capitol for our annual Heart on the Hill day where we successfully lobbied our state legislators to restore funding to the CPR and AED in Schools Training Program. Because of you, every sophomore in Utah will have the chance to be trained in CPR and how to use an AED as part of their Health class! Together, we have laid the framework that will help create a generation of lifesavers for years to come!

And while it would be easy to sit back and count our victories, there is still so much more that can be done here in Utah. This year, we set our sights on improving the health of all Utahns – especially our children.

The American Heart Association|American Stroke Association is teaming up with the Utah Department of Transportation to encourage our state and local elected officials to ensure our children have a healthier, more walkable pathway to school. We are asking all of you to join us as we encourage policymakers to increase funding for the state’s Safe Routes to School program. This program provides funding for schools and local cities to come together and identify areas of need in their communities. The Safe Routes to School program helps improve sidewalks, create crosswalks, and provide signage that help to keep kids and drivers safe. The AHA|ASA supports the funding of this program because of the potential safety and health impact this could have on our children and communities – all in the goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans!

As part of our efforts we will be hosting a booth at our upcoming Heart|Stroke Walk & Run 5K. We would love to have you stop by and sign a postcard in support of the Safe Routes to School program. We will be delivering these postcards to policymakers across the state! You can also click here to volunteer to help us at the event as we work to raise awareness of this issue amongst the thousands of Heart|Stroke Walk attendees!

As parents and those concerned about the children in our community we have many things that we worry about with our children; the last thing we should have to worry about is if our children have a safe route to travel to school. Please support us as we strive to create healthier, more walkable communities throughout the state!

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Cameron Croonquist - Summer Intern Highlight

Cameron Croonquist

Hi everyone my name is Cameron.  I am currently a student studying Public Health Policy and Management at Oregon State University and I’m also wrapping up my advocacy internship with the American Heart Association this summer. For the last three months I’ve been working on our effort to ensure all students learn Hands-Only CPR in school by 2015.  I am extremely passionate about improving the quality and longevity of people’s health here in Oregon, so working with the American Heart Association has been a great fit.

My experience at the American Heart Association has been filled with excitement.  I was fortunate to work with many advocates in various Oregon communities who support our effort to educate more people in Hands-Only CPR as well as state legislators throughout the state.  I really enjoyed hearing about the successes regarding CPR education and listening to heartwarming stories where lives were saved.  Improving the health of our communities is a priority of mine, and I’m grateful for the opportunity that the Heart Association has provided me with the opportunity to create a safer community for all of us.  I look forward to using the experiences I’ve gained at the American Heart Association to reach my educational goals at Oregon State University.

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Governor Kitzhaber's Special CPR Message

I couldn’t be more excited to share with you this special message from Oregon’s Governor, John Kitzhaber, and Portland Fire & Rescue. This past spring while driving through downtown Portland, Gov. Kitzhaber spotted a person in urgent need of help. He acted quickly and stepped up to save their life by calling 9-1-1 and performing CPR. A former Emergency Room physician, Gov. Kitzhaber is familiar with lifesaving protocol. He also knows that you don’t have to be a doctor or a governor to save a life—with Hands Only CPR, any bystander can give someone they see collapse double to triple the chance of survival.

It’s simple:

Step 1) Dial 9-1-1.

Step 2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

Please watch this PSA and share it on Facebook to help us spread this lifesaving message. You can also learn more about Hands Only CPR here. (View the message here: http://youtu.be/E1zu2N6NIDo)

Everyone can and should learn Hands Only CPR—thanks for your help!

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Training a Generation of Life Savers in the Denver Community

The American Heart Association recently had the opportunity to work with Project SHINE at the Spring Institute in Denver, to train Burmese, Bhutanese, and Iraqi refugees in CPR through the Salah Foundation grant. These refugees live in some of the most underserved areas of our city and speak little to no English. However, that didn't stand in the way of learning the lifesaving skill of CPR. 

AHA staff members Rene Ramon and Whitney Bell Haggard conducted the first of three trainings at the end of July in which they quickly realized that we would need to find new and creative ways to teach the CPR Anytime curriculum.


“We knew that the participants had the skills save a life at the end of the training, so we challenged them to train others in their community,” said Whitney Bell Haggard.

She continued, “We were elated to see that of the 150 people we trained during the session, 75 have turned in their sheets to show that they took their kits home and trained others. With just those 75 people we have an additional 480 people trained!”

Isn’t that amazing? One person even trained 58 individuals! We here at AHA just can’t stress enough how this is going to make Denver’s most underserved populations safer and how this also reinforces the importance of how advocates can live out our mission every day, making our communities safer and healthier.

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