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CPR SMART Schools Take Off in NYC!

It all started with Staten Island's Port Richmond High School back in February...they were honored as New York City's first CPR Smart school during American Heart Month.  Then came the Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Brooklyn.  Not to be outdone, Manhattan achieved their first CPR Smart designation in April when Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics made their promise to train every student in basic CPR.  (See a great article here from our friends at El Diario - I've never sounded better! -  Then last week, two more schools from Brooklyn and Manhattan joined our growing list of city schools who are prioritizing this lifesaving training for all of their students.  Congratulations to the School for Human Rights (Brooklyn) and Cascades High School (Manhattan)! 

Here are some great photos of the presentation to these schools when they participated in our recent meeting of the NYC Board of Directors:

(Left - Board Chair, David Lefkowitz presents the CPR Smart recognition to The School for Human Rights representative Ariana Covington)

(Left - Board President, Dr. Larry Chinitz presents the CPR Smart designation to teacher James Walther of Cascades High School.)

And in case you missed them, here are links to the press coverage from our first two CPR Smart Schools:

Port Richmond -

Juan Morel Campos -

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Hayder Hashim, M.D., New York City

My Dad is Why.

It was a Wednesday evening in June of 2006. I was in my room, studying for my final Gynecology and Obstetrics test, when I heard my mother calling me saying "your father is not looking right".

He was 57 at the time, in his usual state of health when he started complaining of a left-sided chest pressure he initially felt that morning while teaching his students basic Tennis skills.

I ran frantically to his room on the other side of our home to find him so restless.  “It feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest” he screamed in pain. As a fourth year medical student, I was running down a list of different diagnoses in my head, trying so hard to keep a "heart attack" at the bottom of my list.

We rushed him to the nearest cardiac center, and sure enough, he was diagnosed with a heart attack. He received the required treatment and was thankfully discharged home after two day hospitalization.

Through an interesting journey many years later, I found myself practicing medicine and specializing in cardiovascular diseases.  I know my dad is why I became so passionate about healthy living and health promotion.

When I joined the American Heart Association as a volunteer, I wanted to do my part to raise awareness about heart disease.  My goal was to keep families together for longer, to give them an opportunity to live and experience special moments such as a child’s college graduation, a daughter's wedding and the birth of a grandchild.

Through my work with the American Heart Association, I was able to play a role in increasing awareness about Hands-Only CPR. We are still working on the proposal in New York State that will ensure high school students are trained in basic CPR prior to graduation.  I was privileged to be one of the nearly 100 advocates who traveled to Albany last year to ask our Legislature to support this policy.

More recently, I joined the American Heart Association’s efforts to help fight obesity, a disease that has been troubling our population for generations. Obesity leads to many chronic illnesses, most of which are “silent killers” such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.  Testifying in front of the Assembly committees address sugary drink legislation was a tremendous experience.

I will continue to fight against all the bad habits that I have seen throughout the years that have led to many catastrophes in my patients’ health. For a better, healthier and longer life, please join our efforts to make a difference.

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New York City Leaders Support Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund

On a cold, drizzly spring afternoon, city leaders joined advocates on the steps of City Hall to rally for the state to replenish the fund that helps to address food deserts in New York.  The weather wasn't going to stop us!  Thanks to Council Members Crowley and Levin, and advocates from The Food Trust, Make the Road New York, City Harvest and of course the American Heart Association, the elected leaders in Albany heard us loud and clear!  The state must invest wisely and support healthy food access.

The Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund was established 3 years ago with a $10 million investment by the state.  Those dollars were immediately leveraged to create an approximately $30 million pot of funding for prospective business owners to build new markets in the neighborhoods that need it most.  Thanks to this fund, more than 15 projects have been approved, bringing healthier food to all New Yorkers.  To learn more about our rally in NYC in support of the Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund, click here:

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Roosevelt Island Supports Community CPR Training!

Thanks to advocates Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, Sharon Williams and a great group of volunteers, Roosevelt Island is quickly becoming the safest place to be if you suffer a cardiac arrest!  Lynne and Sharon have helped implement a community training program that prepares New Yorkers to use hands-only CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the case that someone's heart stops beating.  More than 300 people have been trained in these life-saving skills as a result of their efforts! 

To learn more information, or to find out about future training dates, visit this link:

We hope that the high school on Roosevelt Island soon starts to train students as well so they can be designated CPR Smart like Port Richmond High School was last week.  If Lynne and Sharon have their way, everyone in this vibrant slice of Manhattan will soon be prepared to help save a life! 

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Thank you, Council Member Crowley!

Following up on the recent introduction of our PE Reporting bill in New York City, Council Member Crowley took to the TV to help advocate for her proposal.  Check out the link here:

Thank you, Council Member Crowley, for sharing our message and promoting the need for improved physical education in NYC!

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Making Progress on PE in NYC

New York City Council has joined our fight to improve Physical Education in New York City!

At their Stated Meeting on February 12th, legislation was introduced that will help to improve the transparency of how schools are (or are not) complying with the state's PE requirements. The Council's introduction will create a reporting mechanism whereby a school will have to share the framework of their PE program, and that information will be provided publicly to parents, advocates and groups like the American Heart Association.  This data can help us gain a better understanding regarding the obstacles faced on the way to compliance with state law.

You may remember that the AHA's Advocacy Committee coordinated a research project a couple of years ago, in an effort to clarify the status of PE in our city's schools.  The survey looked at how often PE was offered to students, the length of time for each class, as well as other indicators of a quality PE curriculum.  You can review the report here:

Our research was referenced heavily throughout the press event that announced the legislation.  In fact, this graphic showing our results was displayed to highlight the inequity that exists among neighborhoods regarding PE compliance:

Our concern is long as schools are allowed to ignore the state laws regarding PE, this disparity will persist.  Without quality PE, a student cannot be guaranteed an opportunity to embrace the value of sustained, physical activity which is pivotal for long-term cardiovascular health.  If we truly want to address health equity in NYC, then physical education must be a priority for every school!

Thanks to Council Members Crowley, Rosenthal, Johnson and Dromm for their early support of this pivotal issue. With their help, we will achieve our goal...#PE4All

If you haven't already done so, please take action via this link (and please share it widely with all New Yorkers!)  We need your help to gain more Council sponsors in the weeks ahead:

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Advocate, Pam Bonney, Testifies at NYC Board of Health Hearing

Today, the American Heart Association presented testimony to the New York City Board of Health encouraging improvements for the quality of child care facilities in our city. We are truly passionate about obesity prevention in our youngest New Yorkers, and our comments focused on the impact of nutrition and physical activity standards as effective ways to promote health.  Thanks to Pamela Bonney, AHA Advocacy Committee member and registered dietician, who spoke on behalf of our organization and provided an excellent voice for our mission.

Learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle should be taught at a young age. We know obesity is a problem...obesity and excess weight cause health concerns such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Because 69% of all US adults are either overweight or obese, it is absolutely necessary that our city’s children learn healthy behaviors now in order to eventually improve our city's health.

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Icy Conditions Freezes 911 Response in NYC

As New Yorkers, we are all familiar with the harsh effects of winter months.  And we’re typically equipped to roll with the punches. However, when our city was hit with a severe winter storm on Sunday, heavy rains and freezing temperatures caused black ice conditions with troubling consequences.

With numerous pile-ups and crashes throughout the city, NYC EMS required the help of over 30 crews from  Nassau and Westchester counties and New Jersey to assist in their efforts; this still was not enough.

That morning, from about 8 am until 10 am, there was reportedly a backlog of 600 emergency calls. At 2:30 pm, 200 calls were still on hold. Despite significant planning and training, mishaps can still be expected to occur. You’ve heard this from the AHA before, but it bears repeating, it’s important that we focus on increasing the number of people who are ready to act when an emergency strikes and calling 911 is not enough. In these situations, every minute matters, and bystander intervention saves lives. Through the CPR in Schools policy, we can ensure that our students have the tools necessary to keep a victim alive until help arrives, regardless of the weather conditions. By supporting the implementation of this policy, you are allowing our city’s students to stop being witnesses and start becoming life-savers.

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A Holiday Gift from the FDNY!

The Fire Department of New York announced that they are dedicating resources to help train 5000 high school students in the lifesaving skill of hands-only CPR! While the FDNY isn't funded to train every student, their support of the CPR in Schools movement is a huge boost to the effort.  As the city and state consider the next steps for the CPR in Schools policy, having the FDNY devote such a significant level of time, funding and energy to the cause is pivotal.  Thank you to the city for prioritizing the FDNY's CPR Unit to help train the next generation of lifesavers!

To learn more about the program, follow this link:

Consider sharing the link with your local high school!  And make sure you take action on the alert to share our gratitude with the city leadership for their support!

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What to do when 911 Goes Down?

New York City reportedly escaped unscathed last month when our 30-year-old 911 system went down for about 2 hours. Subject to much scrutiny, the city's emergency system went silent causing responders to use a back-up system that relied on pen, paper and extra staff. All reports seem to indicate that of the several hundred calls received by 911 during that time, none were life-threatening and any delays were deemed 'minor.' While technology must serve as the backbone to our emergency response plan, we should congratulate the city for having a back-up plan in place. But what if an emergency had been life-threatening? What if someone you knew collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest - when every minute matters? A delay in response would not have seemed so minor then. This is one of a million reasons why we should implement the CPR in Schools policy! It's not enough to just call 911. All of us need to know what to do to keep a victim alive until the ambulance arrives. Our students must be prepared to be life-savers!

To learn more about the 911 story, follow this link:

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