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Local Column Outlines Status of Medicaid Expansion in State

The Nebraska legislature has twice considered expanding Medicaid in our state, and twice the proposal has been rejected.  The American Heart Association supports expansion of Medicaid because we believe it will become an important source of coverage for currently uninsured adults with or at-risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Recently, the Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal Start wrote a column that outlined the status of Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska and the outlook for this important program in the fight against cardiovascular disease. 

To read Don Walton’s column, CLICK HERE. 

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Complete Streets Resolution Promotes Safer City Streets

The Sioux Falls City Council passed an important resolution that will encourage safer transportation in the city for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The Complete Streets resolution is intended to make the city safer and more active by making sure all forms of transportation are considered in the street and neighborhood design process. The American Heart Association was an active advocate for this important policy resolution, and we thank our local advocates for encouraging city councilors to support this initiative. 

A Complete Street is a street designed to accommodate all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, bicycle to work, and walk to destinations in a timely manner and in a safe environment.

A Complete Streets policy directs planners and engineers to routinely design and operate streets in manner that provides users safe access – no matter which mode of transportation they choose.

By incorporating complete streets elements, the city can provide safe and accessible networks for families in our community for walking, bicycling and accessing healthier foods. It’s also a great economic development tool to attract new people to our community and encourage young people, seniors and families to stay right here in Sioux Falls.

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Watch4Jerry Video Promotes Safe Transportation

The city of Sioux Falls has launched a new video that, among other messages, promotes safe transportation on city streets whether you are driving, biking or walking.  The video introduces Jerry, a precocious pup that reminds all those who use city streets to watch out for pedestrians, bicyclists and pets who also like to enjoy the outdoors using our sidewalks and city streets. 

Safe transportation is an important part of an active lifestyle which is vital to cardiovascular health.  The American Heart Association encourages individuals and families include outside activities into their daily lives in an effort to combat obesity.  In order to be outside and be active, it’s important for motorists to share the road with all modes of transportation.

Some important considerations for safe pedestrian transportation include:

  • Use Crosswalks and follow signals
  • Make yourself visible to others moving on streets and sidewalks
  • Be sure to allow yourself enough time to cross, and do not dart out in front of vehicles 

Bicyclists should consider these safe transportation guidelines:

  • Follow the rules of the road and be sure you are watching for traffic and crossing streets properly
  • Bicyclists should obey all traffic rules, be visible, protect your head by wearing a helmet and always signal when turning
  • At intersections, stop before entering crosswalks

For more about Jerry and how to stay safe on city streets, visit the City of Sioux Falls Live Well website, or CLICK HERE

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Options for CPR and AED instruction in Schools

Thank you for your interest in training the next generation of lifesavers!  With your leadership, we can save more lives from the dangers of cardiac arrest in New York.  There are several low or no cost options for your school to consider for CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) instruction.

Low Cost Option #1: CPR in Schools Training Kit™

Need a turnkey educational program to teach CPR with hands-on practice?               

The CPR in Schools Training Kit includes:

  • 10 Mini-Anne® Plus inflatable manikins
  • 10 kneel mats with carry bags
  • 10 practice-while-watching training DVDs (English & Spanish)
  • Hand pump for manikin inflation
  • 2 mesh collection and storage bags
  • Classroom carry bag
  • 50 replacement airways
  • 50 manikin wipes
  • 10 replacement face mask
  • Facilitator Guide
  • Lesson Plan
  • Online resources include: trainer webinar, tracking tool for numbers of students trained, facilitator training record, pre- and post-test, letter to parents, and printable certificate of completion
  • The CPR in Schools Training Kit is an all-in-one educational program for educators, school nurses and student leaders to train groups of students at once in a school setting. In one class period students will learn the core skills of CPR. The kit is reusable and can train hundreds of students.
  • Cost: $625

For more information or to order go to:

Low Cost Option #2: Hands-Only CPR using the single CPR Anytime kit:

Each single CPR Anytime Kit includes:

  • Mini Anne® CPR Learning Manikin
  • CPR Skills Practice DVD (English & Spanish)
  • Adult CPR & AED Reminder Card
  • Mini Anne® replacement airway
  • Manikin Wipes
  • Cost: $38.50 per kit

CPR Anytime Kits are self-directed programs designed to teach the core skills of CPR in about 22 minutes. This self-directed DVD course teaches the core CPR and AED skills needed to recognize and take action during a cardiac arrest. On average, up to three people can learn from one kit. The kits can be used to train small groups and organizations.

For more information or to order go to:

No Cost Option #1:  Hands-Only CPR using online tools

  • Using existing school equipment (if school has access to a CPR manikin), students can simulate delivering compressions.
  • Video available at no-cost:
  • Hands-Only CPR Questions and Answers:
  • Be the Beat is a website for teachers and school administrators that provides free tools and resources to help start and sustain CPR and AED programs in schools. Through this website, teachers can download free tools and resources to teach students the two simple steps to Hands-Only™ CPR.

No Cost Option #2:  Partner with local EMS

Thanks to local EMS, some schools have received Hands-Only training for students at no cost to the school district.  There are many local ambulance services and other EMS organizations.

Tips for CPR and AED instruction in the classroom

What should be included in a school CPR training?

♥     Recognition of a possible cardiac arrest and calling 911.

♥     An opportunity for students to practice Hands-Only CPR (compressions).

♥     An awareness of the purpose of an AED and its ease and safety of use.

Suggested Materials (if not using a CPR Kit):

  • YouTube videos
  • CPR manikins  
  • Mats (such as gym mats, garden kneeling mats or yoga mats)
  • AED (Option of bringing students to the school AED)

Prior to class:

  • Inflate manikins.
  • Review any videos that will be used for classroom instruction.
  • Review the instructions provided with your AED (if an AED is available). 
  • If showing students the school AED, check with school officials to see if there is an alarm on the unit.  Some models have an alarm system if opened.
  • Place mat and manikins on the floor, move desks or tables as needed.  Students will kneel to perform compressions.  This is the ideal scenario for quality compression practice.
  • If manikins are placed on desks, students shall stand to perform compressions.

Lesson Plan:

Review why CPR is important:

  • Every hour in the U.S., 38 people will have a sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Sadly, about 90 percent of victims die most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR.
  • A victim’s best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive. 
  • Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates.  

Demonstrate the steps for CPR or show video:

Students are given a demonstration on the steps of Hands-Only CPR.

Students are instructed on AED use.

Divide students into small groups:

Act out the scenario “if someone sees an adult or teen suddenly collapse”. Students can take turns performing compressions.  Remind students to:

  • Check for responsiveness.
  • Call 9-1-1 and tell someone to get the AED.
  • If no signs of life, begin CPR compressions.  Pushing at least 2 inches deep, 100 compressions a minute. 

 To keep students engaged:

  • One student takes the lead and performs compressions. Have students perform 100 compressions in a minute.
  • One student simulates calling 9-1-1.
  • One student simulates going to get an AED if in a public place.

Have music? 

Choose songs that have 100 beats per minute such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.  For more song ideas, go to the Spotify list located at  Remind students to “Push Hard and Fast” to save a life.

Other videos:

Hands-Only CPR video

Keep the beat, Learn Hands-Only CPR video

Ken Jeong AHA Hands-Only video


What is an AED?

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a computerized medical device. An AED can check a person’s heart rhythm. It can recognize a rhythm that requires a shock. An AED can advise when a shock is needed. The AED uses voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take.

AEDs are very accurate and easy to use. The AED will walk a person through use and determine if a shock is needed.

Where are they in our school? 

If you do not have an AED simulator, show the students the school’s AED.  Check with your school administration prior to demonstrating AED use with their device.  Remember, some models may have an alarm system if opened.

Discuss with the students how to use it and note many public places have AEDs.  Review the instructions provided with your AED

 In an emergency, you will need to:

  • Remove clothes from chest and apply pads.
  • Must stand clear of AED while analyzing (if needed push analyze button).
  • If shock is advised, tell everyone to stand clear.
  • Once clear, press shock button. 

Medical Emergency Response Plan

This lesson also presents a good opportunity to review the schools Medical Emergency Response Plan.


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Mom Becomes Heart, CPR Advocate After Losing her Son

Melinda Kentfield lost her son Taylor to cardiac arrest on September 10, 2013.  The 21-year-old junior at South Dakota State University had collapsed while jogging with two friends.  One friend ran to call 9-1-1 while the other stayed with Taylor. Several minutes passed before a police officer and then an off-duty paramedic arrived and initiated CPR.  Melinda has become a volunteer advocate encouraging Nebraska to join the growing list of states to teach CPR as a high school graduation requirement so that all students learn this life-saving skill before they graduate.  Melinda recently shared her story on the AHA's website. 

To read Melinda's story, CLICK HERE. 


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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



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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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Look What You Did!

Your SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy team is kicking off the new fiscal year by recognizing the tremendous advocacy successes that we couldn’t have achieved without YOU this past legislative session. While we might be six states, we are one affiliate, with one mission - to fight heart disease and stroke. Here’s a look at what you did and every reason why we are celebrating with you.

Arkansas – We worked with partners to successfully refund the Private Option, Arkansas’ innovative approach to expanding access to healthcare to hundreds of thousands of residents. This will continue to help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease through increased access to preventative care, and save more lives.

Colorado – House Bill 1281, will ensure that newborns across Colorado will be screened for critical congenital heart defects before leaving the hospital, saving the lives of babies across our state.

New Mexico – Stroke patients will benefit from a more coordinated system of care when utilizing emergency services. Senate Bill 81 ensures that EMS stroke care plans will be developed by regional authorities, reducing disability and saving lives.

Oklahoma – Stroke patients will now receive more timely and a better quality of care when being transported to one of the state recognized stroke centers.

Texas – New funds in the state’s budget will expand a program that helps us identify where opportunities exist to improve heart attack and stroke care in the state.

Wyoming – Passage of Senate File 88, will improve the care that stroke patients receive through the coordination of timely and quality care by regional EMS authorities.

We hope you are as proud as we are of these new laws, as well as how they further the mission of the American Heart Association. Your involvement is critical, and we need you to continue this work. You are saving lives with every event you attend, phone call you make and every action alert you send. Keep it up!

PS. We have some new faces on our growing Advocacy Team. We can’t wait to introduce you to them in upcoming action alerts and emails. 

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Advocating for Heart at the Texas Capitol

A group of 22 dedicated volunteers visited with 30 legislative offices to express appreciation of their support of House Bill 1 – the Texas Budget, which dedicated 2 million in critical funding for the Heart Attack and Stroke Data Collection program and maintained current funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. You’re the Cure advocates also gave heartfelt thanks to our legislative champions for their support of our Closer to My grocer initiative, Texas Grocery Access Investment Program. 

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Stroke Smart Legislation Signed by Gov. Mary Fallin

On June 10th, Governor Mary Fallin held a ceremonial bill signing of House Bill 1463, by Representative Elise Hall and Senator Jason Smalley. This bill updates the current statute regarding the development of a system of a care for stroke in Oklahoma to include evidence-based recommendations, such as EMS protocols, that will help get stroke patients the quality care that they need more quickly. 

This ceremonial bill signing served as an opportunity to celebrate this achievement and recognize those that were involved in many steps of the legislative process.  Such individuals included Dr. Anna Wanahita, Co-Director of St John Health System’s Stroke Center and Oklahoma State Advocacy Committee Member, Richard Boone President of St. John Health System Foundation,  and Justin McLaughlin ,Vice-President of St. John Health System Foundation,  as well as Dr. Carolyn Synovitz, Physician and President of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. 

Additionally, the impact of this legislation was felt as stroke survivors and advocates, Donna McDannold, Donna Roy, and Kaven Kendrick and his wife Debbie Kendrick, were also in attendance to thank Governor Fallin for her support of stroke care.  Central Oklahoma Sweetheart and Jr. Miss Indian Oklahoman, Faithlyn Seawright, also in attendance, spoke to how stroke has impacted her family. Americana Heart Association (AHA) staff in attendance included, Senior Government Relations Director, Naomi Amaha-Gollnick, Quality and Systems Improvement Director, Katie Butterfield, Senior Executive Director, Debbie Hite, Communications Director, Calley Herth, Heart Walk Corporate Market Director, Emily Wade, and AHA contract lobbyists, Michelle Sutton and Jeramy Rich.

Prior to the bill signing, stakeholders and volunteers participated in a small reception and talked about their respective experience with stroke. Prior to the ceremonial signing and group photo, volunteers and advocates had an opportunity to meet with Governor Mary Fallin and thank her for her support for improving stroke care.

Once Governor Mary Fallin “signed” the bill into law, a group photo was taken. Before our group’s departure, Rep. Elise Hall and Sen. Jason Smalley were thanked by the group for their support and leadership on House Bill 1463. 

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