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Greta McKinnon-Hall, Florida

Working at St. Johns County Fire Rescue definitely was not in my life's plan. I wanted to become a high school history teacher. But, things work out for a reason and to say I found my calling would be an understatement.

In 2012, I developed a "Hands Only CPR" program and thought that the high school level was the perfect place to start. These students were about to go out into the real world and possibly be in circumstances where knowing CPR could save someone's life. In April 2012 I approached one of our high school principals and asked if he would allow us to attempt to train their senior class and he said, "Sure." The following month, we held the first Hands-Only™ CPR senior class event. Through the course of the day, we trained almost 300 seniors in Hands-Only CPR and how to use an AED. This program was such a success that we expanded it to all seven St. Johns County high schools.

Starting in November 2012, we began the program by going to one or two high schools a month. In the first full year, we successfully trained 3,500 graduating seniors. The 2014-15 school year started in September and by the completion of this year we will have gone to all seven public high schools and adding a private high school as well.

The program has no funding and the success of the program was supported by volunteers (15-25 per school event), borrowed equipment and donated items.

- Written by Greta McKinnon-Hall

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FL 2015 State Legislative Session Outcome Report

The 2015 special session wrapped up on June 20 and many organizations including the American Heart Association were left scratching their heads at everything that transpired over the course of the special session.  While the main issue was Medicaid Expansion, there were several budgetary issues and other policy issues that were being debated over the three week special session.  We added an appropriation into the budget for CPR, we advocated for Healthy Food Financing and Medicaid Expansion and we ensured our biomedical research and tobacco funding remained whole during the process.  Please click here to read the full 2015 session wrap up report.  If you have any questions about the 2015 legislative session or 2015 special session, please contact David Francis at david.francis@heart.org.

 

 

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Have you checked out the AHA store lately?

T-shirts, measuring bowls, jewelry and everything in between. This summer you can “Shop Heart” choose the best of AHA swag like cookbooks, apparel, and accessories.

You can help spread our message of heart health when you wear an American Heart Association t-shirt, jacket, lapel pin, or tie. In addition to great gear we also stock educational materials so you can share important heart and stroke prevention advice with family and friends. Best of all when you "Shop Heart" money spent supports the mission of the American Heart Association.

Check out the latest merchandise in the store and show your support for the AHA today. 

P.S.  – There is a limited edition You’re the Cure T-shirt in the store. But hurry, only a couple dozen remain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Florida Pushes for CPR in Schools

For the past four years, we have attempted to pass CPR as a high school graduation requirement in Florida.

This year, Sen. Thad Altman once again sponsored our language in the Senate and we were fortunate enough to have Rep. Chris Sprowls, Republican from Clearwater, champion our efforts in the House. While we had Republican sponsors this year, we heard the same argument as in years past; the chair of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. John Legg, refused to hear our bill in his committee because he does not want to put this mandate on the schools. As such, both bills died in the first committee of reference.

We also asked the state to invest $400,000 of CPR training materials for the schools to create new CPR programs or replace old equipment as needed. We received a budget appropriation of $200,000 from the state in the final budget proposal that was sent to the governor, but he vetoed the line item for the appropriation.

We will continue to advocate for CPR in Schools, in order to add thousands of lifesavers to our communities. Right now, nine out of 10 people who suffer from cardiac arrest outside a hospital die, but survival rates could be improved dramatically with more CPR training and other strategies, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine.

Read more about the report at heart.org.

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AHA Supports Increasing Access to Healthcare for Floridians

Ensuring all Floridians have access to affordable, quality health care, in order to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases is essential to the mission of the American Heart Association.  That is why we supported the Florida Senate’s FHIX Bill during the 2015 Special Session. 

Unfortunately, on June 5, 2015, the FHIX Bill died on the House floor.  If passed, the legislation would have increased health care for individuals and families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That means an additional 800,000 low-income Floridians would have received access to health insurance!

Healthcare coverage improves the overall health of Floridians.  It allows greater access to testing and diagnosis of heart disease and stroke,  and better control of risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, it prevents financial devastation after heart attack or stroke.

Floridians can take preventative action against heart disease and stroke when they have insurance,  and can receive consistent medical advice, afford medications and access coaching resources for lifestyle changes.  Emergency coverage for uninsured or underinsured individuals when they are facing declining health or an emergency is much more expensive than preventative and consistent care. 

We applaud the efforts of the Florida Senate to pass meaningful legislation to increase access to Floridians who fall through the cracks.  We're excited to continue working with them to ensure Florida’s most vulnerable have access to affordable, quality healthcare.

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Jacksonville Residents Thank Superintendent Vitti

Guest Blogger: Christine Henderson, Government and Community Relations Director for the American Heart Association

On Friday, May 29th, I attended the Jacksonville Go Red for Women Luncheon an event where  hundreds of women gathered together to help break down the barriers against heart disease and stroke for our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. It was such an empowering experience!

I set up a You're the Cure table focused on the need for CPR as a graduation requirement. As attendees stopped by the table, they saw a map of 22 states that have passed CPR in Schools legislation - and Florida wasn't highlighted,  However, neighboring states were, such as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Conversation after conversation highlighted that people were confused on why Florida has failed to implement this lifesaving policy and were annoyed that legislators failed to see the importance of such a law.

A proud parent boasted, “My child learned CPR in their high school, somebody is doing something right.”  The parent was right. Here in Duval County, we owe much of our “thank you's” to Superintendent Vitti. As Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, the nation’s 16th largest school district serving over 125,000 students, he understands the benefits of educating and empowering our students; our future community leaders. This year, Duval offered the opportunity to participate in the Hands-Only CPR™ program to high schools and middle schools and even included 4th and 5th graders from a handful of their elementary schools.

Duval is doing its part in creating the next generation of life savers. At the Jacksonville Go Red for Women Luncheon, over 65 attendees signed thank you cards applauding Superintendent Vitti for his leadership and continued support of CPR in schools; many of whom joined our You’re the Cure network to help support implementing this policy in all school districts throughout our state.

Although CPR is not a graduation requirement in Duval county, we are proud that the district's leadership understands the importance of CPR in Schools, and their continued support will help the state of Florida to get it right!  As an advocate, I was moved by the many supporters encouraging me to keep working on implementing this policy for all children in our state.  As a parent myself, who has taught my 8 year-old son Hands-Only CPR, CPR as a graduation requirement just makes sense.  Can’t have it no other way.

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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.

  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang

Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.

  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo

Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.

  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff

Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.

  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins

Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out this video below highlighting the award winners!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.


Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:

 

  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth to learn more about how you can get involved.

 

 

 

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