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AED Advocates Stormed the State House

A group of dedicated advocates came to the State House to lobby for a bill that would require automated external defibrillators in Schools. The advocates are so passionate because they unfortunately lost a child because when they suffered sudden cardiac arrest a defibrillator was not available. You could not have asked for better advocates to storm the State House and share the message.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart’s electrical system abruptly malfunctions and the heart suddenly stops beating normally. SCA is often confused with a heart attack, which typically happens when blocked arteries prevent blood from reaching the heart’s muscles. There is hope for SCA victims, but time is the enemy. To survive SCA, they must receive immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to increase the blood flow to the heart and brain, along with an electrical shock from a defibrillator to stop the abnormal heart rhythm. For every minute without life-saving CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by 7 to 10%. Only an estimated 8% of victims who suffer a SCA outside of a hospital setting survive.

The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a simple-to-use device about the size of a laptop computer that is used to shock the heart of a person suffering a SCA to return the heart to a normal rhythm. Treatment of SCA is a race against the clock. The combination of early, immediate CPR and defibrillation can more than double a victim’s chance of survival.


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Advocacy Victories in the Commonwealth

We are excited that with the end of our fiscal year that we have a lot of advocacy wins to celebrate. This was a true team effort that could not be achieved without your support of our work, taking action on alerts, being part of lobby day, and you, our dedicated volunteers being tireless advocates throughout the year. 

  • We were successful in leading a campaign to secure a $500,000 appropriation for Stroke Education and awareness; including a specific earmark of $200,000 to support the state Stroke registry.  The $200,000 earmark met the Goal Guidance criteria for Stroke Registry funding.  Not only were we successful in having the appropriation included in the legislature’s budget but we also successfully led a veto override campaign. This happened in July 2015. Just yesterday we were able to secure an additional $620,00 for stroke funding in the final budget that is on its way to the Governor’s desk so we are excited that the momentum of the original funding continues!
  • In the early winter Boston joined almost 90 cities and towns across Massachusetts to set the minimum age at 21 and with Boston joining the movement more than ½ of the population live in cities and towns where 21 is the minimum age.  In May we were able to add to the local 21 push when the cities and Towns of Brockton, Carver, Chelsea, Essex , Falmouth, Gloucester, Hadley, Halifax, Marblehead, Norfolk, North Adams, North Attleboro, Plainville, Shelburne, Southampton, Sunderland and Tewksbury cumulatively representing 324,199 residents were confirmed to have passed T-21 policy. In June the Cities/Towns of Great Barrington, Lowell, Stoughton and Worcester passed T-21 legislation adding an additional 317,365 Massachusetts residents living in communities that now have a minimum legal age of 21 to purchase Tobacco products.  These additions mean that 121 of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth have T-21 laws. We are confident that this momentum will help us pass the Statewide Tobacco 21 bill by July 31st!
  • For a number of years we have been working on Complete Streets to secure necessary funding and policy language so that we can create healthier communities for all of our residents. I am excited to say that the Massachusetts state Transportation Improvement plan will be dedicating a total of $110 million dollars over the next 5 years to programs and projects to improve access to safe bicycle and pedestrian programs that will help people who walk, bike, run and roll do so more safely.  This campaign involved not only working to appropriate the funds but also to influence the Capital Improvement Plan to ensure that all modes of transportation are considered in road improvement design.
  • Lastly we were able to secure a win for our local CPR in Schools efforts. Unlike most other states, nearly all curriculum decisions are decided at the local level which means that we have to work with local school Superintendents and School Committees to implement CPR Graduation requirements in school districts across the State.  This particular win reflects the passage of policies in the Worcester, Springfield and the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional school districts.  These three school districts represent an additional 3,169 High School Graduating Seniors who will learn the fundamentals of CPR before they graduate.  In all, we have worked with 2 additional districts that require some form of CPR training before students graduate with an overall total of 5,317 students trained each year.  We have also identified an additional 26 school districts with over 12,000 annual graduates to focus on in FY 16-17. This is a particularly satisfying win because it took a true team effort to get this down, and without our volunteer’s dedication and outreach we would not be making the progress that we are!

 Lastly as some of you know our legislative session is not over yet, we have until July 31st at midnight to get a few more policies passed. We are working towards:

  1. Statewide Tobacco 21
  2. Healthy Vending in State Buildings
  3. $6 million for Healthy Food Financing
  4. A Comprehensive Stroke System of Care
  5. Quality Physical Education
  6. AEDs in all Public Schools


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Learning CPR in Schools

Nearly 383,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 11% survive, most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our community with lifesavers- those trained to give sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMT’s arrive. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen any place, at any time. If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR. But most do not.

Fortunately, Connecticut is one of thirty-four states that requires CPR training to be part of the public school curriculum. Thanks to passionate advocates like yourself the CT legislature passed this law in 2015 and school districts state-wide are now gearing up to meet the July 1, 2016 requirement. Teaching students CPR before they graduate will put thousands of qualified lifesavers on our streets and into our neighborhoods every year!

As part of national CPR and AED Awareness Week (June 1-7), Dr. Ed Cronin, who is an attending electrophysiologist at Hartford Hospital, an assistant professor of medicine at UCONN, and a member of the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts American Heart Association Board of Directors was interviewed by WTIC. To listen to the short interview click here and scroll down: 

Awareness of CPR may only be celebrated one week out of the year, but for students who learn how to perform CPR, it is a skill that will last a lifetime, and maybe save a life as well!

To learn more about emergency cardiovascular care, click here:!

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American Heart Association Celebrates Lifesaving Victory as Missouri Becomes 34th State to Provide CPR Training in Schools

Governor Nixon has signed Senate Bill 711 to equip a new generation of Show-Me State lifesavers; More than 60,000 Missouri students to be newly trained in first year of law’s implementation

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, June 14, 2016 – Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 711 (SB 711) today, making Missouri the 34th state to provide lifesaving CPR training in schools. Today’s action by Governor Nixon marks the culmination of five years of work by many dedicated survivors, volunteers and advocates. This legislation has been the centerpiece of the American Heart Association’s policy priorities in the Show-Me State, opening the door for all Missouri students to receive a 30-minute introduction to lifesaving skills at some point during their four years of secondary education. The law will take effect during the 2017-2018 school year, in which more than 60,000 Missouri students will immediately benefit from this lifesaving training.

“The American Heart Association celebrates this important victory and we thank the many survivors, volunteers and collaborating partners for making this moment possible,” said Jace Smith, Senior Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association in Missouri. “Four of every five out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in private or residential settings. CPR training in schools strengthens the cardiac chain of survival by equipping thousands of civilian bystanders to be ready to respond in an emergency. Many lives will be saved because of this legislation.”

SB 711 was sponsored by Senator Dan Brown. An identical bill, House Bill 1643 (HB 1643), was sponsored by Representative Ron Hicks. Both pieces of legislation experienced broad bipartisan support. SB 711 requires schools to provide students instruction in CPR and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) as part of high school graduation requirements. The training must be administered during a physical education or health class, as part of the Missouri curriculum, allowing schools flexibility in offering the training. The curriculum can be introduced in 30 minutes or less using a ‘practice-while-you-watch’ approach with an inflatable manikin and instructional DVD. The law does not require students to achieve CPR certification, nor is this a “pass/fail” training. The bill simply allows students to understand and become familiar with the basics.

For one key legislative proponent, the effort was especially personal. Representative Ron Hicks used his own CPR training to save the life of a Missourian who collapsed during a visit to the Missouri State Capitol in 2014. As a result of that incredible experience, Representative Hicks vowed to see the law passed during his time of public service and worked diligently to help make it happen.

“I have two children and know that children are our future,” said Representative Hicks. “We teach skills in the classroom to help students be successful in life. This legislation provides an opportunity to do something very special: to equip students with a tool that protects life and impacts generations to come. That’s why this legislation is so important to me.”

Why Learn CPR? - Cardiac arrest – an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs – is a leading cause of death. Each year, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States.

When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Be the Difference for Someone You Love - If you are called on to give CPR in an emergency, you will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend. Seventy percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. Unfortunately, only about 46% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives.

Music Can Help Save Lives - During CPR, you should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. The beat of “Stayin’ Alive” is a perfect match for this.

How To Give Hands-Only CPR - If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive.” CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival, and “Stayin’ Alive” has the right beat for Hands-Only CPR.

Hands-Only CPR Can Save Lives - Most people who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. As a bystander, don’t be afraid. Your actions can only help.

When calling 9-1-1, you will be asked for your location. Be specific, especially if you’re calling from a mobile phone, as that is not associated with a fixed address. Answering the dispatcher’s questions will not delay the arrival of help.

For More Information. To learn more, visit

About the American Heart Association & the American Stroke Association: The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team up with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit In Missouri, you may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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90 Seconds Can Save a Life

We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of teaching high school students CPR before they graduate, but what if YOU are called on to give CPR in an emergency? You will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: your spouse, parent, child or friend.

In just 90 seconds, you can learn the two simple steps of Hands-Only CPR. Click below to watch the Hands-Only CPR video and then share the link with family and friends!

Thank you for learning how to save a life!

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We Met At The Capitol

It has been a busy spring in the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate!  Across the affiliate we have been hosting Lobby Days to bring advocates together to meet with their lawmakers, so join us to learn what your neighbors have been busily working on this session.

South Carolina’s inaugural Lobby Day in March was an overwhelming success!  Advocates spent the day in key meetings with lawmakers, asking for bilateral support around H 3265 - CPR in Schools as well as funding for a position to oversee the state stroke registry.  We are pleased to share that Governor Nikki Haley signed H 3265 into law on April 21, 2016 H 3265.  SC advocates can thank their lawmakers by joining us here!

North Carolina hosted You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day in May. What an experience!  Advocates gathered to educate lawmakers about the need for improving access to healthy foods and ask for support of HB 250/SB296: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.  NC sweet potatoes accompanied by heart healthy recipes were also handed out, and a wheelbarrow filled to the brim with local produce was on display.  Since then, the House included $300,000 in their budget for the initiative and now the budget is headed to the Senate.  NC residents can take action on this issue – just click here.

Virginia held its annual Lobby Day in February, managing meetings with legislators in spite of harsh winter weather.  You're the Cure advocates educated legislators on how the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund would increase access to fresh foods across the state. Advocates followed the effort up later the same week by dropping off a grocery bag of fresh fruit with information about the need to legislators on their way into the Capitol.  Although funding was not ultimately included in the budget, the issue remains, and will be a continued advocacy focus. VA residents can further support this issue now by clicking here to take action.

The District of Columbia held its Lobby Day at City Council in April, bringing advocates together to talk about dealing with DC’s tobacco problems.  In addition to seeking funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs, You're the Cure advocates asked Councilmembers to remove tobacco from sports venues, raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21, and to treat e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products in its city code. Although the tobacco funding was not approved, some of the other tobacco issues are still under consideration. Those who live in DC can help push these issues forward by clicking here to take action.  

Maryland’s Lobby Day, focused on including healthy food options in state vending machines, was held in February.  You're the Cure advocates worked hard to educate legislators about providing healthy choices among the other offerings, a measure that would support a healthier population and serve as a good role model for others.  Although the bill was killed in the committee stage, advocates will continue to build support throughout the year, and try again next legislative session. MD residents can speak up for healthy foods by clicking here to take action.

We’d love for you to consider joining us next year at your Lobby Day!  Don’t forget to take action today to tell your lawmakers you support the policies of the AHA.

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MA Budget Success

Last week when the Senate took up their budget we had some success and some losses. We did not get any additional funding for MA Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program. We also did not secure funding for CPR in Schools Grants or the AED Trust Fund which is disappointing but we will continue to work to secure this critical funding. 

We did secure language around funding for Mass in Motion and were able to work (really) hard to get $100,000 for the MA Food Trust to help run the program. We were told early on that it was a hard no, but thanks to our many partners and grassroots efforts we turned the no into a yes of partial funding. Lastly we were able to increase the Stroke Line item from $400,000 to $620,000 and secure the language that creates a stroke system of care, ensuring that we have two vehicles for this critical policy.

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The Legislative Session is a Wrap!

New Hampshire state lawmakers have finished session and bills now move on to the Governor’s office for signing into law. Two of the American Heart Association’s priority bills have succeeded. The Reauthorization of NH’s Medicaid Expansion program, continues healthcare coverage for 47,000 for another two years. The Study Committee for Complete Streets policy will engage advocates, lawmakers and state agencies into the fall.  Work on two other issue areas of importance to the AHA mission to save lives and improve Heart Health will continue into the next session. Over the summer and fall months the AHA will be working on our new campaign for Healthy Active Kids, to improve school and community environments to support access to healthy foods and physical activity. Local advocacy continues as well for CPR training of students prior to graduation from high schools. Tobacco control efforts also continue, including the goal of raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 years. Information on these opportunities for advocates to become involved will be communicated through the You’re The Cure network. 

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Take Action for Corner Stores Today

We would all like the option to make a healthy choice, right?  We need your help now to speak up for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Legislative session is moving fast and the NC House will be debating the state budget next week. It is important that the $1 million appropriation for Healthy Corner Stores is included.

Ask your legislators to fully fund the Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

Over 1.5 million of our North Carolina neighbors live in communities where healthy foods aren’t affordable or accessible. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative can help change that by bringing healthy, local foods into small stores in neighborhoods that need them most.

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. Tell your lawmakers today that you want all North Carolinians to have that right and ask them to include full funding for Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

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Recap of the 2016 Legislative Session

Guest Blogger: Nicole Olmstead, Government Relations Director - Arizona

The 2016 Legislative Session here in Arizona has finally ended, on May 7, 2016.  During the session, we continued our campaign to have Arizona join the ranks of 31 states across the US that require Hands-On CPR training before graduation.  At the beginning of March, our CPR in Schools Bill, SB 1137, sponsored by Senator Jeff Dial, passed the Arizona Senate with a vote of 22-8 and was sent to the Arizona House of Representatives for consideration.  The bill moved through the House with tremendous momentum and support until the final House floor vote. 


Due to unfortunate timing, the legislature shifted focus to the Arizona budget and delayed votes on all other legislation. The Arizona Legislature passed the budget on May 4, 2016 and began the consideration of the remaining bills, including our CPR in Schools bill, before they adjourned for the year. 


Shortly after on May 6, 2016 Senate Bill 1137 passed the House Floor by a vote of 34 to 20!


The bill has been signed by Governor Ducey on May 12th! Thank you so much for your support this campaign.  We couldn't have passed this lifesaving legislation with you!

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