Written by Brittni Chicuata, Gov. Relations Director, Greater Bay Area
Here at the American Heart Association, optimal cardiovascular health for all is paramount. We have set a 2020 Impact Goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20 percent. To reach our goals I am appealing to you, our volunteers, for input and advocacy.
Approximately 424,000 people in the United States experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) annually in places outside of the hospital, and roughly only 10% survive the event. Despite these devastating and sobering numbers, the majority of people who experience SCA do not receive the necessary assistance from bystanders, since 70% of Americans either do not know, are afraid, or have forgotten how to perform CPR effectively.
Since releasing our groundbreaking statement on Hands-Only CPR in 2010, which emphasizes the importance of preparing the general public with lifesaving skills, the American Heart Association has worked tirelessly to build awareness around the value of knowing how to perform Hands-Only CPR. Additionally, we have implemented Hands-Only CPR initiatives nationwide and committed ourselves to training 20 million Americans in CPR by the year 2020. To date, 18 states have passed legislation making Hands-Only CPR training a high school graduation requirement, which is incredible. Still, there is much work to be done in the remaining states.
The need for public education on the lifesaving skill of Hands-Only CPR is emphasized not only by the number of unprepared bystanders who will face an emergency, but also by the health disparities associated with survival and quality of life after SCA. There are cultural barriers to seeking and providing help for medical emergencies, variances in EMS response time depending on one’s zip code, and disparities in health outcomes following those emergencies. For example, African-Americans who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public location at higher rates and younger ages than other ethnicities, yet their survival rates are twice as poor as those of whites.
Together we can increase survival rates following Sudden Cardiac Arrest. By advocating for Hands-Only CPR training in schools, by increasing outreach in faith and other community-based organizations, and by working with community stakeholders, we can grow awareness around this pivotal issue and prepare everyday people to help save a stranger or loved-one’s life. Tomorrow’s emergencies are unpredictable.
If you are interested in creating a generation of life savers via the training of Hands-Only CPR in your community, please contact your local Government Relations Director for volunteer opportunities.