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State Advocacy Committee News Update

On November 21, the North Carolina American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee met to celebrate achievements, bestow advocacy honors and discuss policy priorities. The committee had much to celebrate this year including the passage of stroke center designation rules, advancement of the healthy corner store initiative legislation, and significant progress in local communities for healthy vending and tobacco control policies.

During the meeting, the committee recognized three individuals for their advocacy efforts that help advance the AHA mission.


  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Friend Award was presented to Senator Don Davis for his leadership to advance HB 250/SB 296 Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.
  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Champion Award was presented to Drexdal Pratt, Director of Health Service Regulation for his work for more than a decade to promote high impact policies that save lives including the Good Samaritan laws, stroke and STEMI transport protocols, stroke center designation, and pulse oximetry screening.
  • The 2015 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence was presented to Valerie King for her strong leadership in You’re the Cure.

This meeting also provided time to recognize the 2014-2016 Committee for their service and install the 2016-2018 NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee. Juddson Rupp and Yolanda Dickerson will co-chair the committee for the next term. The committee works closely with AHA staff partners to provide strategic leadership for the NC AHA advocacy program and coordinates You’re the Cure activities including state lobby day.

Committee members spent time discussing the top priorities for 2016. Efforts will continue to advance HB 250/SB 296 with full funding to create a statewide healthy corner store initiative. In addition, You’re the Cure will be working to expand affordable health insurance to those caught in the coverage gap with no other options available to them. Locally efforts will continue to promote healthy vending policies local governments to ensure employees have access to healthy food choices while at work.

If you are interested in learning more about the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, please contact Betsy Vetter.

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Mission:Lifeline Helping all Montanans

The Mission:Lifeline program has been at work for a little over a year in Montana working to improve the outcome of cardiac arrest patients in rural parts of the state.  The program has given out over a million dollars to hospitals and emergency service providers in rural areas to purchase expensive but lifesaving equipment that rural providers can not otherwise afford.

As the program enters its second year they are starting the next phase of outreach to improve cardiac arrest outcomes. Program directors have reached out to the Native American Communities in Montana in order to help improve the outcome of cardiac arrest patients in the Native American communities.

EMS services on all six of Montana’s reservations, plus a tribe with 4,500 Native Americans, have received equipment allocations through a $4.6 million donation by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“Native American risk factors for heart disease are twice as high as anyone else’s because of their body makeup and ethnicities,” said Lacey Gallagher, the spirit of women coordinator for Benefis Health System in Great Falls.

There are about 42,000 people living on reservations and roughly double that number of Native Americans living off reservations in Montana. Life expectancy is more than four years lower than the national average. Obesity is a common risk factor for many of the diseases this group faces, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The equipment being purchased with the grant funds includes 12 lead EKGs in ambulances and the technology to transmit those results to hospitals. In parts of Montana it might take up to two hours for a responder to get to a victim. Time matters when it comes to outcomes and the 12 lead EKG equipment lets responders transmit EKG results from a rural location to the hospital so a plan can be formed in minutes and doctors are ready when the patient arrives.

It all begins with a call to 911, said Joani Hope, Montana’s Mission: Lifeline director.

“Being able to provide information on your heart from the first few minutes that first responders are on the scene can help physicians make lifesaving decisions much earlier,” Hope said.
Wyoming, received a similar grant and has reduced deaths from 7.1 to 4.1 percent, according to data collected by the AHA.

American Indian heart health resources
Mission: Lifeline

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Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!

On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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Kristin Salvi, New York

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.


As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!

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Anne Efron

Anne Efron, Maryland

Following a long day at work Anne Efron and her husband Dave were getting set to grill for dinner.  After making a quick trip to the store Dave returned to find Anne unconscious and without a pulse, in full cardiac arrest. She had a history of what had been diagnosed as benign cardiac dysrhythmia. Dave, who is Director of Adult Trauma, and Chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, immediately began CPR and dialed 911.  One of the questions that rang in his mind was this: how long had her brain and other organs been without oxygen before he arrived?

Dave continued performing CPR until EMS arrived about 10 minutes later and took over.  Only after transport to St. Joseph’s in Towson, the closest facility, and eight attempts at “shocking” did Anne’s heart resume “normal rhythm.”  Her heart was badly stunned and her condition continued to worsen.  Her medical team determined that the care Anne needed to survive was beyond the scope of St. Josephs. To stabilize her enough to make the trip, the Interventional Cardiologist at St. Joe’s skillfully placed a balloon pump in her heart. 

Once arriving at John’s Hopkins, Anne spent sixteen days in the Coronary Care Unit.  After the extraordinary care of the first responders, the care she received at St. Joe’s and the cutting-edge mechanical support techniques and critical medical care she received in one of the top hospitals in the world, she was able to walk out of the hospital and returned to work just five weeks after her cardiac arrest. 

Anne got involved with the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots network, and advocated actively for a Maryland Bill which would make CPR and defibrillator training a graduation requirement in Maryland public high school.  That bill became law in 2014.   Anne states “CPR is a simple lifesaving skill and one that gives those with this skill a “sense of empowerment.  Learning CPR will save many lives.” 

Click here to Be CPR Smart:









<Thanks to YTC advocate/volunteer writer Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for helping craft this story>

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Marc Kutler - Saving Lives with CPR and AED Awareness

If there is one thing Marc Kutler does well, its saving lives. And he thinks more people should too.

Marc, an ER doc at Northwestern Medical Center, has a passion for encouraging a strong chain of survival. He oversaw the CPR and AED training at The Edge fitness centers that led to five lives saved.

He also helped the American Heart Association pass legislation in 2012 requiring Hands-only CPR training at Vermont high schools as part of comprehensive health education.

Now he’s working with the AHA again to make sure schools are following through with the CPR training and that more Vermont cities and towns become Heart Safe Communities – working in a coordinated effort to ensure the best chance of survival for cardiac arrest.

Help us in this effort by sharing the Heart Safe Community information packet below with your town’s leaders.

(Please visit the site to view this file)

And make sure your school is teaching CPR to help create a new generation of life savers. The Info sheets below make it easy!

(Please visit the site to view this file)

(Please visit the site to view this file)

Help us in our fight to save lives and you can be a lifesaver too!

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Come & Get it: "Hands on Heart" CPR Training for DC Residents

Along with AHA and other partners, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the “Hands on Hearts” initiative on October 27, which aims to train 5,000 District residents in hands-only CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) by September 2016.  

“With the right training, anyone can save a life,” said Mayor Bowser. “That is why the District is committed to training residents in life-saving, hands-only CPR.  A 20 minute training could make the difference between life and death for a friend, family member or stranger who needs care before emergency medical services are able to respond.”

DC Department of Fire & EMS Sgt. Mike Forrest, a You’re the Cure advocate and FEMS CPR Training Coordinator, expressed at the launch event that he is “so excited” about hands-only CPR. “I love this stuff, I just love teaching CPR.” For Forrest, CPR is very personal. Last year, his grandfather went into cardiac arrest, and the person that was with his grandfather didn’t know CPR. Forest wants DC to be the safest place. He envisions a community where “any citizen, passer-by, [visitor] or [traveler] will stop, call 911, and do hands-only CPR.” Forrest emphasized to the mayor and DC Council that “if you don’t get anything else out of the day, just remember that doing good compressions is what’s [going to] save someone’s life.”

Hands-only CPR is a technique promoted by AHA that involves chest compressions without artificial respiration. Studies indicate that hands-only CPR performed immediately can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Following the launch presentation, Sgt. Forrest and his FEMS colleagues provided hands-only CPR training to Mayor Bowser, all 13 members of the DC Council, and other governmental leaders.

In addition to this event, DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and his staff recently received CPR training. At the Hands on Hearts launch, he encouraged his fellow Councilmembers to do the same. CM McDuffie chairs the Council’s Judiciary committee, which is considering a bill that would require every school in Washington, DC to have at least 1 AED on site, along with CPR/AED training for certain staff. (View the bill, which AHA recommends be amended to require CPR training for all high school students).

Equipping citizens to save a life makes sense.  As McDuffie said, “…every second matters” during a cardiac arrest.

CPR is an essential life skill, and it saves lives!  Send a quick message to your legislators and tell them to join more than half the country by teaching CPR in DC Schools.
















Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Council and advocates discuss the need for CPR training

<Special thanks to our DC YTC intern Sydney Nelson for developing this blog post> 

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I'd Do It in a Heartbeat

What would you do in a heartbeat? Travel? Shop?

How about save a life?

The American Heart Association is committed to saving countless heartbeats through CPR training in schools and communities. Teaching all of our students CPR could save hundreds of lives each year by filling the DC community with more lifesavers – young people trained to give cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive. Hands only CPR training can be taught in less than 30 minutes—that’s less time than it takes to watch the evening news!

On October 1, 2015 the DC Council Committees on Education and Judiciary held a hearing on legislation that would require every school in Washington, DC to have at least 1 AED on site, along with CPR/AED training for certain staff. (View the bill here). Advocates representing AHA and other organizations rallied to testify that while it is an admirable goal to place AEDs in schools, without CPR training for all students, the bill’s intent may not be achieved. They recommended that CPR should be a requirement for high school graduation, as is the case in 27 states, including Maryland and Virginia. Teaching students CPR could be the difference between life and death.

Jennifer Griffin, a passionate advocate for CPR in schools, told the emotional story of her daughter’s tragic death. On June 8, 2012 Gwyneth Griffin went to school like any other day. But around 10 AM, Gwyneth collapsed on the outdoor track. Her friends and fellow students ran to get help, yet no bystanders knew what to do – nobody gave Gwyneth immediate CPR. As a result, Gwyneth’s brain was dying due to lack of oxygen that CPR could have provided. She was transported to the hospital in a coma. Tragically, Gwyneth passed away on July 30, 2012. 

Before the hearing Jennifer said, “had CPR or an AED been available faster, her life might have been saved.” She then called on the DC Council to act by amending bill B21-243 to include CPR as a high school graduation requirement in Washington, DC. By joining Maryland and Virginia, this will create 145,000 lifesavers across the national capital region.

So what would you do in a heartbeat? How about urging that at least 5,000 new lifesavers are trained in our nation’s capital each year by supporting CPR in schools?

Send a quick message to your legislators and tell them to join more than half the country by teaching CPR in DC Schools.



<Special thanks to You’re the Cure intern Sydney Nelson for development of this blog post>

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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

Written by Nicole Olmstead, Government Relations Director, Arizona

Did you know, October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month? Do you know what sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is?  Can you recognize the symptoms?  What do you do if you see someone have an SCA? 

Just in case you didn’t know, Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating for various reasons.  SCA’s claim one life every two minutes, taking more lives than *** cancer, lung cancer or AIDS.  SCA’s are so fatal because blood immediately stops flowing to the organs and more importantly, to the brain.  If not treated within minutes, a SCA causes death. 

The symptoms of SCA are sudden and drastic and include: sudden collapse, no pulse, gasping or no breathing, and loss of consciousness.  Unfortunately, typically SCA’s happens without any of the warning signs that you typically see with a traditional cardiac emergency. 

If you come upon someone and suspect SCA or you see someone have an SCA the most important things to do are 1) Call 9-1-1 and 2) start Hands-On CPR by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the Bee Gee’s Song “Stayin’ Alive.” 

Don’t know CPR yourself? Click here to learn Hands-Only CPR and you could save a life.  It may be the life of someone you love. 

The AHA is working to pass Hands Only CPR training in schools to improve survival rates in our communities.  If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Nicole Olmstead or Josh Brown for more information. 

Hands-Only CPR is Why.

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It's a CPR Celebration!

We did it!  After more than 16 years of effort, New York will finally require every student be trained in Hands-Only CPR before graduation! 

Thanks to all of you - our You're the Cure advocates - New York is the 26th state to make this training a requirement for our students.  As a result, our nation's high schools will now be training more than half of our country's graduates every year!  More than 1.5 million kids will soon know what to do if someone's heart stops beating and they need CPR.

High schools all across the state have already received this memo from the NY State Education Department.  However, feel free to share it with your local high school.  Schools are expected to begin training students this year, and we can use your help to make sure every high school is prepared to comply with the law!

This policy would not have been achieved without the tremendous support of so many advocates and partners with the American Heart Association.  This campaign was a long-time coming, and we were thrilled to help celebrate its conclusion with so many core friends!  If you ever need to be in the trenches with a team, this group of advocates - many of whom lost children to cardiac arrest or were rescued when someone knew CPR - set the bar very high!  We are forever grateful for every effort, every story told, every tear shed, in support of this campaign.  Knowing that this law will save lives was motivation unto itself.  But your energy and determination, furthering the legacy of your loved ones, inspired us all to keep going no matter how many times we were told no.  Thanks to you, thanks to the evolution of the science behind CPR, and thanks to many NY lawmakers along the way - CPR in Schools is now the law of the land in New York!

If you weren't able to join us in Albany on the day of the Board of Regents vote - take a look at the photos here:

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