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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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Brittany Nelson, Florida

You never know when you will need someone to save your life. Brittany Nelson, 24, was recently saved by bystander CPR. In December 2014 she was in NYC on vacation with her family. They were at a restaurant in Times Square when Brittany went down. No one knew she had any heart condition and the family screamed for anyone who knew CPR. Two eye doctors came to her rescue and began doing Hands-Only CPR until paramedics arrived. Had it not been for Hands-Only CPR, Brittany would not have survived. Her heart had stopped beating. Once in the hospital she learned that she had an undiagnosed condition called Long QT Syndrome (LQTS).

LQTS is a heart rhythm disorder that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. In some cases, the heart may beat erratically for so long that it can cause sudden death. You can be born with a genetic mutation that puts you at risk of long QT syndrome. In addition, certain medications and medical conditions may cause LQTS.

Recently, WTXL in Tallahassee interviewed Brittany about her ordeal and you can see the interview here on WTXL.com. Also, the New York City Fire Department will be flying her family to New York in May to attend the Second Chance Brunch where Brittany will get to meet her rescuers!

Learn more about Hands-Only CPR on heart.org.

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Florida Pushes for CPR in Schools

The 2015 Florida Legislative Session kicked off on March 3, and for the fourth year in a row the American Heart Association has introduced legislation that would integrate Hands-Only CPR training into the curriculum for all graduating high school students. Sen. Thad Altman, R – Melbourne, and Rep. Chris Sprowls, R – Clearwater, have sponsored our bills - Senate Bill 328/House Bill 1311 respectively.

Since we first introduced CPR in Schools legislation in 2012, twenty states have passed this language, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. To illustrate the need for CPR in Florida's high schools, two families traveled to Tallahassee on March 5 to share their personal stories with legislators. Kaycee Teets and her husband Steven from Hillsborough County and Jim Cobb and his sister Kristen from Louisiana both suffered the unimaginable when a sudden cardiac arrest led to the deaths of their children. They met with legislators to ask for their support of our bills and most of the members were very open to supporting our efforts.

The American Heart Association asks that you support our efforts to ensure that Florida graduates generations of lifesavers by calling, emailing or writing to your State Representative or Senator and asking them to support Senate Bill 328/ House Bill 1311.

 Click on the image to see the Cobb family’s story. 

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Help secure funding for this life-saving AED program today!

This is a critical time in Congress. Lawmakers are deciding on their funding priorities and the next round of budget negotiations are beginning. Even in this difficult economy, there are several federally-funded programs that are vital to the heart community, and we need to let our lawmakers know they must be a priority.

One such program helps buy and place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in rural communities. The program also trains first responders and others in the community to use and operate these devices. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program ensures those who live in rural areas or small towns have access to the tools they need for the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, the program currently only has the resources to operate in 12 states.

Please contact your lawmaker today and ask them to prioritize funding to save lives from cardiac arrest!

People in every state should be given the best shot at surviving a cardiac arrest. Communities with aggressive AED placements have increased survival rates from about 11% to nearly 40%, which is an incredible improvement. But 38 states are still waiting for funds for this life-saving program.

Deadlines in Congress are looming, so please contact your elected officials TODAY!

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Sen. Altman Sponsors CPR in Schools Legislation

We’re thrilled that Senator Thad Altman from Melbourne has agreed to sponsor our CPR in Schools legislation. Senate Bill 328 is now ready to move through the committee process. Please call or email your Senator, asking for his or her support so we can train generations of life savers in Florida.

Click here to find your Senator’s name and contact information.

Nearly 424,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of the hospital every year, but only 10.4%survive, most likely because CPR is not administered soon enough. Isn't it time for the Florida Legislature to make sure all high school students learn CPR before they graduate? It’s one of the best ways to add more lifesavers to our communities.

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The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 Livestream

Join us for this exclusive virtual event where top designers and celebrities demonstrate their support for women's heart health during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Heart disease is not just a man's disease. Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. We can change that--80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Help break barriers against heart disease and stroke by joining us for the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 live online at GoRedForWomen.org/RedDressCollection on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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Meet the New Surgeon General

Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December to serve as the next surgeon general of the United States. The surgeon general is America’s top public health official, and his responsibilities range from managing disease to promoting prevention and a healthy start for our kids.

At 37, Vivek Murthy is the youngest person and the first Indian-American to hold the post of Surgeon General.

Since this position was created in 1871, just 18 people have held the job. Dr. Murthy, the 19th, replaces an Acting Surgeon General who has filled the role since 2013. Dr. Murthy’s confirmation was delayed for nearly a year due to political issues, but in that time he received the endorsement of more than 100 public health groups, including the American Heart Association.

Dr. Murthy has both business and medical degrees from his studies at Harvard and Yale. He completed his residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he most recently served as an attending physician. He has created and led organizations to support comprehensive healthcare reform, to improve clinical trials so new drugs can be made available more quickly and safely, and to combat HIV/AIDS.

His resume is remarkable, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy to improve the health of all Americans.

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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. 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests happen in private or residential settings. Yet, only 41 percent of people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in public get the immediate help that they need before emergency help arrives.

Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for sudden cardiac arrest. It can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival.

Take a minute to watch the Hands-Only CPR video and share it with the important people in your life.

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CPR is Why

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. 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests happen in private or residential settings. Yet, only 41 percent of people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in public get the immediate help that they need before emergency help arrives.

Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for sudden cardiac arrest. It can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival. That's why we want all Florida high school students to learn CPR. To save lives. Watch the below video for inspiration!

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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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