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2014 Heart on the Hill a Success

April 2 was our Minnesota Heart on the Hill. We had 38 volunteers at the Capitol to meet with legislators. Our issues this year included asking for $6 million for Safe Routes to School infrastructure, AED registry, and comprehensive transportation funding that includes designated funding for active transportation. All told, volunteers had 58 individual meetings with legislators (that’s over ¼ of the Legislature!). Plus volunteers had many more contacts with staff and personal notes left where legislators were unavailable. Packets were dropped at the offices of all 201 legislators including more than delivered more than 700 petition cards in support of the SRTS and AED bills.

 We also held a walk as part of our Capitol Rotunda Rally to celebrate National Walking Day—we had over 60 participants including Sen. Senjem, Sen. Pappas, Sen. Kiffmeyer, Sen. Nelson, Rep. JoAnn Ward, Rep. Halverson, Sen. Franzen, Rep. Hortman, Rep. Clark Johnson, Rep. Bly, and delivering the keynote address was MnDOT Commissioner, Charlie Zelle.

Thank you to all of our great volunteers who attended and staff partners who helped make this a great Heart on the Hill day!  Make sure you check out photos from  the day on our Facebook page here.

Also check out the great media coverage of our event here in the media section.

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April Update from Springfield

Below is a legislation update from Alex Meixner, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association.

All – we have some good progress to report in Springfield on the systems-of-care front, as Illinois’ annual spring legislative session rolls on.  So without further ado:

First off, our stroke legislation (House Bill 5742) passed the House Human Services Committee on March 26, setting the stage for a vote on the House Floor in the coming weeks!  HB 5742 is the product of a collaborative effort between the AHA/ASA, the IL Critical Access Hospital Network, Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other, and the IL State Stroke Advisory Committee (the official advisory body to the IL Dept. of Public Health on stroke care matters), and would serve to improve stroke care throughout the state.  Amongst other provisions, the bill would: allow the state to recognize Comprehensive Stroke Centers; bring IL’s Emergent Stroke Ready hospitals in line with the new national Acute Stroke Ready standards, and; institute a modest stroke hospital designation fee to pay for a statewide stroke registry and other stroke-related activities within the IL Dept. of Public Health. 

Yesterday’s successful vote was also the product of weeks negotiations with the IL Hospital Association which ultimately made the bill stronger. While we never want to count our legislative chickens too soon (especially since it’ll need to pass at least four more votes before being sent to the governor), things are looking good so far. I also want to take a moment to applaud the incredible work of our terrific stroke volunteers like Shyam Prabhakaran, Peggy Jones, Bob Biggins, Lisa Bartlett, Liz Kim, Jack Franaszek, and Lesley Cranick (just to name a few), our partner organizations like SSEEO, the Midwest Stroke Action Alliance, and the State Stroke Advisory Committee, and of course our terrific QI staff Kathleen O’Neill and Robin Hamann.

Second, the CPR/AED training in schools legislation (HB 3724) recently passed the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. Specifically, HB 3724 would require all IL high-schools to include CPR and AED training in their base curriculum, representing a major step forward for CPR/AED training in Illinois. That said, even (hopefully!) with this bill’s eventual passage, there will still be additional work to do next year to get us our ultimate goal of ensuring that every IL high-school students receives CPR and AED training prior to graduation. 

 At the hearing, two Illinois families spoke out in favor of mandatory CPR training. The first, represented by George, Mary, and Matt Laman, spoke movingly about Lauren Laman (George and Mary’s daughter, Matt’s sister), a high-school senior from St. Charles, IL who went into sudden cardiac arrest during dance team practice in her school gym. While there was an AED in the building, no one knew how to use it, and by the time EMS arrived it was too late.  Next came Harry and Brigette Bell, who told the committee about the night earlier this year when Eric Bell (Harry’s father and Brigette’s husband) went into sudden cardiac arrest at home. Luckily, Harry had received CPR training during his freshman year of high-school, and knew exactly what to do. While his mother called 9-1-1, Harry began chest compressions, which ultimately saved his father’s life. According to Dr. Anand Ramanathan, who treated Eric upon arrival at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, "the CPR kept him alive until help got there.  The hospital intervention was after the fact, frankly. The main reason he’s alive today is because of the CPR he received at home." Those twin stories made clear for committee members the incredible life-saving value of CPR and AED training (see the attached photo of the Lamans and the Bells along with bill sponsor Rep. Dan Burke). The support of AHA/ASA volunteers, partner organizations like the IL EMS Alliance, IL Heart Rescue, and various IL fire and EMS organizations was crucial to achieving this major step forward. 

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Illinois EMS Alliance which we and so many of our volunteers have worked hard to build over the last 18 months is starting to show some real muscle in the Capitol. In addition to helping us build both political support and (even more importantly) implementation capacity for the CPR/AED training bill, the Alliance and the various EMS stakeholders it represents are making themselves heard on a range of emergency healthcare-related issues in Springfield. To point out just one, earlier this week leaders from the IL EMS Alliance put out a call for EMS agencies and EMS professionals around the state to voice their support for SB 3414, a bill which will help bring IL’s EMS education, training and licensure systems up to national standards (which is crucial because the emergency medical care provided by EMTs is only as good as the education and training they receive). The IL Dept. of Public Health has been trying to pass this bill for several years without success, and it seemed all too likely that it would once again die a quiet death in the Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday, with only a handful of witness slips filed in support of the bill as of Monday afternoon. Within just a few hours of the appeals from IL EMS Alliance leaders, however, 123 witness slips had been filed in support of the bill (compared to just 3 opposed), most filed on behalf of local EMS systems, hospitals, fire protection districts, and state-wide healthcare associations. Thanks in part to this overwhelming support, the bill passed easily through a committee.  This was a huge show of strength for EMS in Illinois, and a big step forward for the political credibility of the IL EMS Alliance. 

As always, thank you for signing those petition cards, filing those electronic witness slips, and taking those You’re the Cure action alerts!  It really does make a difference!

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Vermont Superhero Tommy Watson and Governor Kunin

As National Superhero Day, April 28th draws near, we're sending a big "shout-out" to Tommy Watson. Tommy worked with the American Heart Association two years ago to pass legislation requiring Hands-only CPR to be taught in health classes in Vermont schools. And, like the Energizer Bunny, this super kid keeps on going and going and going! Tommy has now trained over 1,300 people this life-saving skill.

Tommy is pictured here teaching former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin Hands-only CPR at the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Luncheon in January. Governor Kunin, by the way, was one of Vermont's first Go Red Leading Ladies helping us spread the word about women and heart disease.

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In Memory of Louis

Last week, Karen Acompora wrote to many of you about her son Louis, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Please read Karen’s note about Louis and join her in calling for Governor Cuomo to take a stand to support CPR in Schools…

Today marks 14 years since my son, Louis, played in his first high school lacrosse game. After blocking what appeared to be a routine shot with his chest, Louis collapsed on the field. The coaches and trainers rushed out and began CPR. Paramedics arrived almost 15 minutes after Louis’ collapse. They attempted defibrillation but were too late. Louis went into sudden cardiac arrest and passed away. He was 14 years old.

Sudden cardiac arrest can be scary – it can happen to anyone, at any time. That’s why we worked hard to pass Louis’ Law so that all schools in the state are equipped with AEDs. And 79 lives have been saved. But now it’s time to do more. CPR is the lifesaving solution. We need more people to learn this simple skill.

Here in New York, there is a bill that calls for students to learn CPR and AED instruction. And while 13 other states have adopted CPR in Schools laws, the bill has lingered in Albany. And Governor Cuomo hasn’t taken a position.

I’m urging Governor Cuomo to publicly support the adoption of CPR in Schools. Will you join me?

Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. It’s time for New York State to have more lifesavers in the community...Please join me to tell Governor Cuomo: It’s time for New York to be CPR smart.

Save a Life. Learn CPR.



Since this was printed, Louis’ Law has saved another life. We can do even more. Please join Karen and call for Governor Cuomo to support CPR in Schools.

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Look At All We've Done

In the hustle and bustle of life, it seems there is always something that needs our attention.  Maybe it’s a lunch appointment, a meeting after work – did you remember to call your mom to wish her a happy birthday?

With so many things monopolizing our time, it begs the question: “Why do we do what we do?”  How do we choose to prioritize what gets our few free moments?  As a You’re The Cure Advocate, why do you choose to align yourself with our mission?  Do you know all that we have accomplished?

Today, we are bragging on you. Each action you have taken: every email you’ve sent to your lawmakers, every meeting you’ve attended has helped propel forward many vital pieces of legislation.  We want to tell how you’ve shaped our Mid-Atlantic Affiliate over the past few years.

2012 Legislative Session: tax on small cigars and all smokeless products was raised. Legislation was also passed to require insurance carriers to cover and reimburse healthcare providers for services delivered through telemedicine.
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in MD are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. 
Thank you.

North Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: required all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  In addition, a total of $2.7 million in non-recurring funding was secured for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in NC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital.   Also signed into law was a policy that ensures designation of Primary Stroke Centers - ensuring stroke patients receive appropriate & timely care. 
Thank you.

South Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: advocates were able to preserve $5 million for the Smoking Prevention and Cessation Trust Fund. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in SC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. Additionally, the Senate passed legislation requiring all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  This legislation is headed to the House of Representatives, and our SC advocates will be vital in ensuring this becomes law.
Thank you.

2012 Legislative Session: Governor McDonnell issued Executive Directive 4, developing an implementation plan for pulse oximetry tests in hospitals. The House also required the Board of Education to develop PE guidelines for public elementary and middle schools.
2013 Legislative Session: Gwyneth’s Law was signed into law.  All high school students will be required to achieve proficiency in CPR for graduation – and all teachers must be proficient in order to achieve their licensure.  The state budget allocated $400,000 for 12-lead ECG’s for EMS, which helps to diagnose the most severe type of heart attack.
Thank you.

Washington, DC:
2012 Legislative Session: the DC City Council allocated $495,000 for tobacco control programs within the Department of Health.
2013 Legislative Session: the DC Telehealth Reimbursement Act of 2013 requires all payers to reimburse services rendered by telemedicine.
Thank you.

Advocates are driving more policies in the 2014 sessions!  Some say “It takes a village to raise a child.”  With You’re The Cure, it “takes a network to make a difference.” Each and every one of you has made a difference.

Thank you for giving your heart.


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Now it's time for Governor Cuomo to support CPR

Too many lives have been lost from sudden cardiac arrest...isn't it time for Governor Cuomo to stand in support of CPR in Schools? Click the link to send a letter to Governor Cuomo - It's that easy.   The letter is already drafted for you - but feel free to personalize it!

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Will Freeman, Kentucky

Will Freeman Kentucky

When his younger brother's friend nearly died at a birthday party, Will Freeman decided to take action--by teaching hands-only CPR to his peers at Henry Clay High School. In addition to recently training his entire class of over 500 students, the Lexington, Kentucky, senior has been working closely with the American Heart Association throughout the 2014 Legislative Session to gain support for a bill that would ensure all high school students in the state learn CPR before they graduate.

Read more about Will's efforts and how you can help create a new generation of lifesavers in your state by supporting CPR training for all high school students!

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Share your Story: Kent & Marcia Seeker

Kent and Marcia Seeker Wisconsin

On April 21st, 2009, my beloved wife, Marcia, suffered a heart attack just as we were going to bed.  I wasn't sure WHAT was wrong, but I knew that I needed help and called 911.  Amber, the 911 operator, had me relay what was happening then had me begin compression-only CPR.  It took the fire department ten minutes to arrive, but their sirens were some of the sweetest sounds I've ever heard.  The good people from Ladder 6 took over and ended up shocking my wife's heart three times.  I stood there numbly expecting them to turn to me at any minute and say "sorry, Mr. Seeker, we did everything we could".  Incredibly (to me), they began readying Marcia for transport to the hospital and I began to allow myself some hope once again.  In the ER, it was a beehive of activity, then she was whisked away to the Cardiology Dept.  I sat in a waiting room by myself for three hours not knowing if Marcia had lived or died.  It was absolutely the longest three hours of my life.  Somewhere around 4:00 am, the cardiac surgeon came out and began talking about Marcia in the present tense which I thought was encouraging, so I asked if she was still alive.  He said:  "she's conscious and talking" and I ‘bout fell over - I felt like I'd won ten lotteries!  Maybe twenty minutes later, they wheeled Marcia out on a gurney and I probably made a fool of myself gushing thanks to the surgeon.

That was nearly five years ago and I still have my Marcia.  It hasn't always been easy, but her health has stabilized and Marcia suffered no brain damage, for which we're very thankful, since the cardiologist referred to her heart attack as "one of the worst there is".  We've since been able to thank the firefighters and Amber, the 911 operator, in person for their lifesaving efforts and plan to visit them again on the five-year anniversary of their 'save'. 

About one year after Marcia's heart attack, one of our local television stations, WISC, contacted us about doing a story promoting compression-only CPR training for everyone.  We agreed and that story is still available on YouTube.  You can click this link to watch our story:

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CPR Training at the Illinois Statehouse

American Heart Association volunteers led by AHA Illinois Advocacy Committee member J.R. Dietl taught over 100 Capitol staff how to save a life last month by training them in CPR and AED use.  With the legislature in recess that week, legislative and Capitol building staff took advantage of a comparably quiet afternoon in Springfield by attending the training, which the AHA puts on every-other year.  And advocates took this opportunity to not only train staff in this life-saving skill but also talk about Lauren's Law - training all Illinois high school students in CPR before graduation.

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Lauren's Law Heard in the House Education Committee

Last week, Lauren's Law, HB 3724, was heard in front of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. This bill would ensure all Illinois high schools students were trained in CPR and AED use prior to high school graduation. It is named in honor of Lauren Laman who tragically lost her life to sudden cardiac arrest during high school drill team practice because those around her did not know how to perform CPR or use an AED that was available to them.

Lauren's family, including her father George, mother Mary and brother Matt attended the hearing and spoke to the committee on the importance of this life-saving legislation and teaching high school students this important skill that could have saved their daughter and sister.

Also, testifying before the committee was Harry and Bridgette Bell. On the evening of January 13, 2014, a 50 year-old father of four named Eric Bell suddenly fell to the floor of his Elmhurst, IL home due to SCA, just as Lauren had a few years earlier. In this case, however, Eric’s son Harry, a 17 year-old high-school junior, had recently received basic CPR and AED training at school. Harry sprang into action and began performing CPR as his mother called 9-1-1. EMS crews arrived a few minutes later to administer an AED and transport Eric to the hospital. Thanks to Harry’s bravery and CPR training, Eric survived and has made a full recover. According to Dr. Anand Ramanathan, who treated Eric upon arrival at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, "the CPR kept him alive until help got there. The hospital intervention was after the fact, frankly. The main reason he’s alive today is because of the CPR he received at home."

Lauren's Law successfully passed out of committee thanks to our wonderful advocate testimony. Stay tuned ways you can help this life-saving legislation continue to move closer to becoming a law.

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