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The Start of Summer Brings New Board Members to CT AHA

The American Heart Association of Connecticut has a new board of directors who have already committed to helping move AHA’s legislative agenda at the State Capitol. The new crop of board members have all been touched in one way or another by heart disease and stroke and are committed in assisting AHA with achieving its 2020 impact goal, improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

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A Star Comes to Connecticut

The American Heart Association recently held its Fairfield County Go Red for Women luncheon, which was attended by more than 400 guest learning how to combat heart disease and stroke, the number one and three killers among women. The guests were treated to Star Jones, who was the key note speaker and is a national volunteer for the American Heart Association. Ms. Jones had open heart surgery in 2010.

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Rocky Supports CPR in Schools

The American Heart Association collected signatures for a petition calling for CPR training in Connecticut schools at a recent New Britain Rock Cat’s game. As part of National EMS Week, members of the EMS community and American Heart’s Mission Lifeline project were recognized during the night game. It was great evening for fans who watched their Rock Cats triumph over the Richmond Flying Squirrels while showing their appreciate to the folks who make their communities heart safe.

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Important SCA Legislation Passed in the CT General Assembly

In the final days of the 2014 Connecticut General Assembly, law makers passed important legislation aimed at reducing the number of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) deaths during youth athletic events. SCA is the leading cause of death in young athletes. Most often, the death occurs during athletic training or competition. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Program established by the recently passed legislation will educated coaches, parents, and youth athletes on the signs of a SCA and what lifesaving actions must be taken if a sudden cardiac event occurs on the athletic field.

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Three Young Ladies Who Know the Importance of CPR training in Schools

Gabriela, Julia, and Megan, who serve in the Ellington Rescue Post 512, made a trip to the State Capitol to demonstrate CPR and advocate for CPR training in schools. The three demonstrated their skills and discussed with legislators the importance of learning CPR during the American Heart Association’s legislative reception. 

All three young ladies are leaders in the Ellington Rescue Post 512, a non-profit organization that is run by Ellington High School students. The program affords young people a unique opportunity to receive medical training at the EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) or EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) level and to have hands on experience in the emergency medical field.  Post 512 is truly unique as it is the only program in the United States that allows high school students to respond to emergencies during school.

Gabriela, the Vice President of Ellington Rescue Post 512, also joined the program as a freshman. Gabriela was attracted to the Post in an effort to overcome a challenge that occurred in her life. When she was eleven, Gabriela lost her father due to a short term illness. It was a very traumatic experience. This was the first time Gabriela was exposed to the EMS community, during those numerous times when an ambulance was called to her home during her father’s illness. For Gabriela seeing all the flashing lights and loud noises was frightening especially since she could not help. Joining Rescue Post gave her  an opportunity to give back to the community that had given so much to her and her family. As Gabriela so eloquently put it, “I am no longer the little girl who was scared when I saw the ambulance staff taking my dad out of the house on a stretcher, I am the girl who can jump into the back of the ambulance and know I am making a difference in someone’s life”.

Julia, a Membership officer in the Post, knew in 8th grade she wanted to join the program as soon as she was eligible. She has been able to respond to a variety of emergencies and has been able to take away valuable information from each emergency call. Julia is grateful for the opportunity to take part in this unique program and looks forward leveraging her skills and experience in a possible nursing career.

Megan, the President of Ellington Rescue Post 512, joined the post as a freshman in 2012 and was fully certified by the state of Connecticut few month later allowing her to start using the medical training while riding on the ambulance. During her time participating in the program, Megan has been called to numerous emergencies, ranging anywhere from a gunshot wound, to cardiac arrest, and/or difficulty breathing. Megan is considering the medical field after high school because of her experience serving in Post 512.

Because of their shared experiences learning and performing CPR as young as 15, Megan, Gabriela, and Julia are inspired to get their town to add CPR training to the school curriculum, with the goal of increasing the number of community member that can potentially save a life. They believe having young adults learn CPR can increase the number of bystander saves in their community. They know that early interventions of CPR can save someone’s life. Megan, Gabriela, and Julia are calling people to stop waiting for the help and instead take action. Learning CPR changed their lives and it can change the lives of their fellow high school students and the community of Ellington.

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Stroke Advocacy Group Pushes State System of Care Bill

Members of the Connecticut Stroke Task Force have been working with legislators to pass a bill that would create the framework for a coordinated statewide Stroke System of Care, improving the odds of survival for stroke victims. The proposed legislation would improve outcomes for thousands of people by creating an improved system of care where emergency medical services and hospitals work together more efficiently, making a real difference in people's lives. The rapid identification, diagnosis, and treatment of stroke can save the lives of stroke patients and in some cases can reverse neurological damage such as paralysis and speech and language impairments, leaving stroke patients with few or no neurological deficits.

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AHA Stands with Legislators Calling for E-Cig Regulations

American Heart Association’s own David Day, Vice President of Advocacy for the Founders Affiliate, stood with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty calling for new regulations on electronic cigarettes during a recent press conference at the Connecticut State Legislative Office Building. Senator Blumenthal and Congresswoman Esty are purposing federal legislation prohibiting advertising and marketing e-cigarettes to children and adolescents.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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Lieutenant Governor Is Honored at the GRFW Luncheon

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman was presented with a very special award at the recently held 2014 Hartford Go Red for Women Luncheon in honor of her participation in the luncheon since its inception and her contributions to women’s health in Connecticut. Known for her signature platform heels, the Lieutenant Governor received the perfect Go Red for Woman Award. Wyman has worked on expanding quality healthcare through the creation of the state’s HUSKY Health Plan, and most recently, Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health care exchange. The American Heart Association views expanding healthcare coverage as a key component to achieving its 2020 goals to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke.

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Kristen Hickey, Connecticut

I have always tried to make a difference in a patient’s life, but thanks to the American Heart Association, I can make a difference in lives of patient’s throughout Connecticut. I have been a Stroke Coordinator for the last 7 years and have a passion to improve stroke care for all of my patients. Stroke became a strong interest of mine after my father in law suffered a massive stroke. He lost his ability to move his left side and his awareness and memory were greatly affected. I often wondered if the best possible care was given to him and that drove me to learn more. Soon after, I was offered a Stroke Coordinator position and knew it was a perfect fit for me.

I am currently coordinating the care of stroke patients at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, the Bradley and New Britain campuses, as well as Midstate Medical Center. Every patient deserves the best possible stroke care and that philosophy, along with the support of the AHA, has helped me advocate for the improvement of stroke care in CT. I have truly enjoyed helping shape the Stroke System of Care Bill currently making its way through the legislature. This bill supports Stroke Certification of all hospitals in Connecticut by 2015, and if a hospital is unable to meet requirements, then EMS would transport to the closest certified Stroke Center. I have testified at the Public Health Committee meeting, lobbied with Senators and State Representatives and spoke to anyone who would hear my plea. I will continue to work tirelessly until all residents of Connecticut receive the best possible stroke care.

I am privileged to work with the AHA and a fantastic team of stroke professionals in the state. We all have different backgrounds and experiences, from all areas of the state, but we work together toward the goal of improving stroke care for all residents of Connecticut. It is very rewarding knowing that I can make a positive impact on the outcomes of the stroke patients at the hospitals with which I work, but thanks to the efforts of the AHA and my colleagues across the state, it is truly inspiring to realize that this impact can be shared with every patient in Connecticut.

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