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Oregon 2015 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham

When our state leaders head to the capitol for the six month legislative session, they have a lot on their minds—not the least of which is the health of Oregonians. It’s the job of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and our allies in public health to ensure that decision makers know the most effective ways to improve the health of all Oregonians, and how to protect them from Oregon’s number one cause of death, cardiovascular disease, and our number one cause of preventable disability, stroke.

Oregon’s 2015 Legislative Session was a busy one for the AHA and our advocates. Here are the highlights:

  • CPR in Schools Passes: The AHA and a team of remarkable advocates led the charge to make Oregon the 23rd state to pass CPR in Schools legislation. Thanks to Senate Bill 79, all Oregon students will be trained in CPR before graduating, ultimately adding over 45,000 new lifesavers across every Oregon community. Thanks to all of the Oregon Legislature for unanimously supporting CPR in Schools, and a special thanks to Sen. Arnie Roblan, Sen. Mark Hass, Rep. Carla Piluso, Rep. Margaret Doherty, and Rep. Jeff Reardon for their leadership.
  • Improvements for Oregon’s School Food: The AHA supported continuing Oregon’s legacy as a leader in school nutrition by aligning our state’s school nutrition standards with the updated federal guidelines. House Bill 2404 will help ensure kids get the healthy food they need for a healthy future.
  • Funding for Tobacco Prevention: We helped to protect $4 million for fighting the harms of tobacco in Oregon. Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in Oregon, and our tobacco prevention programs have been effective at reducing consumption.
  • Funding for Physical Education: We helped to protect $4 million for PE in schools that will help schools hire teachers and get more active minutes into their day. This generation of kids is the most inactive in history, and it’s more important than ever that schools support healthy active living.
  • Increasing Access to Health Care: We helped pass a bill, House Bill 2468, that will put Oregon’s Insurance Division to work trying to make insurance plans more transparent and to help consumers access the care they need when they need it.

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New Stroke Guidelines Will Change Stroke Treatment in the U.S

Each year, more than 690,000 Americans have strokes caused by blood clots blocking vessels in the brain, called ischemic strokes. Some of the clots can grow large and may require intense therapy to treat.

However, widely celebrated new research reaffirms that large blood clots in the brain are less likely to result in disability or death, if the blockage is removed in the crucial early hours of having a stroke.

Right now the standard treatment is a clot-dissolving drug called tPA. But it must be given intravenously within 4.5 hours to be effective. For people with larger brain clots, tPA only works about a third of the time.

New studies recommend doctors to use modernized -retrievable stents, to open and trap the clot, allowing doctors to extract the clot and reopen the artery nearly every time when used with tPA.

To learn more read “Clot Removing Devices Provide Better Outcomes for Stroke Patients” and visit to learn the warning signs of stroke.

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Advocate Spotlight - Tim Gable

Meet Tim Gable, a young survivor who had a stroke at age 25 and spent his 26th birthday in the hospital.  Tim’s a new AHA/ASA volunteer who has become a key advocate for our upcoming Saving Strokes Event in Provo. Here’s Tim’s story…

My friends and I had decided to go on a short vacation for Easter weekend. On March 31, 2013 during breakfast I began feeling very dizzy and nauseous.  I informed my friends I was going to go lay down until I felt better. I was walking back to my room when suddenly my left leg would not hold my weight and I fell in the lobby.  I managed to pick myself up thinking what did I trip on? But I saw nothing. I made it to my hotel room door where I once again fell to the floor.  This time however I was unable to get back up and this was the first time I started to feel scared about what was wrong with me.  I lay on the floor just out of reach of the door.  I was there for 20-30 minutes before one of my friends came looking for me. 

He found me on the floor unable to get up.  He dragged me into my room and tried sitting me up but my body wouldn’t hold.  I kept falling over so my friend ran for help realizing something was wrong. He had another friend come and help him pick me up they then ran me out the back door into another friend’s waiting car.  They drove as quickly as possible to the nearest hospital emergency room.  When we arrived the hospital quickly took me in and diagnosed me with having a stroke. I was given TPA then put on an ambulance and rushed to another hospital that was better equipped to handle stroke. 

As soon as I arrived at the other hospital I was taken into surgery where they located the blood clot in my carotid artery in the right frontal lobe of my brain.  There were multiple attempts to remove the clot but every time it was removed it reformed and re blocked the blood flow. The surgeon tried everything he knew but he could not stop the clot from reforming, eventually it had to be left or the surgery was going to kill me.  The clot is still lodged in my head but I’m told there is no risk of it moving. 

The next day I awoke in the neural critical care unit with the worst headache.  Nurses were called in to check on me.  I was rushed to an MRI and it was determined that my brain was now swelling due to the damage done from the stroke and was pressing on the inside of my skull threatening more damage.  The surgeon gave my parents two choices they could remove a portion of my skull in an attempt to relieve the pressure or allow nature to take its course and allow me to pass away. The decision was made to have the bone flap removal surgery.  Which luckily worked and ended up saving my life. 

I spent two weeks in the neural critical care unit and was then transferred to another hospital where I immediately began occupational, physical and speech therapy each day for the next month and a half. My doctors pushed me to do as much therapy as possible due to my young age the more I did early on the more I had the chance of getting back. By the time I was released to go home I was able to walk on my own with little to no assistance.  I immediately started outpatient occupational, physical and speech therapy each day. I continued this for the next year continually improving until I was finally able to pass the driving tests and get my license back!

I returned to school and finished my degree in business management. During this time I felt the need to do more for people like myself who have suffered a stroke and recently participated in an event called Saving Strokes.  As a result I have become a volunteer for American Stroke Association and hope to build a career where I might be able to use my experience and story to help others.

For more information about the Saving Strokes program click here.

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Julien Comardelle - A Simple, Lifesaving Endeavor

My name is Julien Comardelle and I’m a student at West Linn High School. 

As a volunteer alongside Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, I have had the opportunity to go to my former middle school, Athey Creek, and teach the seventh grade class the simple but extremely important basics of CPR.

CPR is a very simple and easy-to-learn skill that unfortunately, few people feel the need to learn. Teaching CPR is a very simple endeavor. The students I have had the pleasure of working with have been very attentive during the lessons and focused during the applied exercises.

If students in Oregon are trained in CPR, there is now a greater chance that a person experiencing cardiac arrest will have access to CPR and survive. The current national average for survival for out of hospital cardiac arrest in 2014 was only 10.4% according to the American Heart Association.

CPR education is personally very important to me because my father had Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and he developed cardiac complications after chemotherapy.  In summer 2012 he had a cardiac arrest at home.  He was successfully resuscitated on the floor of our living room and that prolonged his life by two more years. As soon as my age permitted, I got fully CPR-certified. 

In my freshman year of high school I performed a research project for the Intel Science and Engineering Fair which compared CPR certification rates between Oregon and Louisiana. It was at the fair that I was approached by Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and introduced to the project, which I am so honored to be a part of.

 Anyone can save a life and everyone should know how.

Julien testified on Senate Bill 79 in May 2015. Thanks to advocates like Julien, soon after, the bill passed the Oregon Legislature, requiring all students learn CPR before graduating.

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Doctor's Orders: Sign the petition for Every Kid!

This message is from Dr. Sergio Fazio, board member for the American Heart Association-Oregon and SW Washington and supporter of Safe Routes to School.

Kids get less physical activity than ever before, and the resulting prognosis is poor:
Today’s kids are the first ever to have a shorter life-expectancy than their parents.
As a physician in the Metro area, I see firsthand the devastating effects of kids who don’t get enough exercise. One in four Oregon kids are overweight or obese, leading to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension—a life plagued with preventable chronic disease. Most of the time, they don’t have the opportunity to get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise during the day. 
Creating safe routes to school for walking and biking would allow our kids the opportunity to get much needed physical activity they need to live a long, healthy life. 
Unfortunately, the kids who most need exercise often have the least opportunity to get it.
You and I can change that.
Together, we can urge Metro Council to make streets safe around our schools, and to ensure students and families receive education on how to walk and bike safely as part of a daily routine.  This alone would help kids get 60% of their recommended daily physical activity. 
Join me in signing the petition and asking Metro Councilors to fund Safe Routes to School for every kid. 
There’s no time to wait.

Thank you,
Sergio Fazio MD, PhD

Dr. Fazio is an expert in metabolic diseases and preventive cardiology, and serves on the board of the American Heart Association-Oregon and SW Washington.

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Another City Council for Safe Routes to School

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

On June 22nd, the Forest Grove City Council joined the call for a region-wide “Safe Routes to School” initiative to serve every kid in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties by unanimously passing a resolution calling on the Metro Regional Government to act.

This makes Forest Grove the fourth city in the Metro region and the third in Washington County to call for increased action to improve the health of kids by making communities safer for walking and biking. Tigard, Milwaukie, and Beaverton adopted similar resolutions in the spring.

Metro Councilors have the opportunity in the coming year to allocate funding to create region-wide safe routes to school.

Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington represents part of Washington County—a county where more than 70% of 8th graders do not get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the 2013 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey.

"For me Safe Routes to School is about how important it is for us to ensure that youth in our community experience a healthier, better world,” said Metro Councilor Katheryn Harrington. “And even more, people of all ages will reap multiple benefits from providing safe routes in our communities."

Research shows that kids who most need opportunities for physical activity don’t have the necessary safe infrastructure—sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes—in their neighborhoods and around their schools to support a healthy childhood.

Lack of physical activity is a leading contributing factor for obesity, diabetes and heart disease—a problem for Oregon, where one in four kids is overweight or obese.

In the last year, thousands of parents and community members from around the Metro region have signed petitions and sent emails in support of a region-wide Safe Routes to School initiative as a solution for their families.

You can sign the petition here.

Join us in asking Metro to make Safe Routes to School for 150,000 kids in every school district in the Metro area.

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What's the best and worst in your neighborhood?







This message is from Trey, age 7. He goes to an elementary school in Milwaukie, OR. You can see him in this video speaking out for safe streets For Every Kid!

“I need a safe way to walk and ride my bike to school. Walking to school is fun and it’s good for me. I want to walk and bike, but I can’t.

Here’s what my walk to school looks like: 

You can help make safe routes for me and my brother and all kids so that we can stay healthy every day. Thank you.

Trey Niggeman, Age 7 (almost 8!)
You can help by taking a picture like Trey did!

It’s simple: If neighborhoods aren’t safe, kids are missing out on more than just fun—they’re missing out on the physical activity they need to be healthy. And there’s no better place to start making improvements than around our local schools. That’s why the #ForEveryKid campaign is asking Metro Councilors to make sure every kid has a safe route to walk, bike, or access transit to school.
Now let’s show them what we’re talking about: Share the best and worst of your neighborhood on social media for the next 10 days to highlight your safety needs.
Step 1: Take pictures of the best and/or worst in your neighborhood—walking your dog, on your trip to school, biking to the park, waiting for the bus, etc. Show your safest places and your least safe places.
Step 2: Post the photos on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. You can post them on your personal accounts (just make sure the privacy is public so we can see them). Or post them on ours at or Tag the photos #foreverykid.
Step 3: Give yourself a high five! Your actions will help make safe routes to school for every kid.

We’ll show decision makers your experience trying to walk, bike or access transit to school by sharing your photos. You have the power to make Safe Routes to School a priority in upcoming funding decisions.  Every kid deserves a chance at a healthy future. Help us show Metro Councilors what it is really like out there. Show us your best and worst!
Post your pictures and help us reach 150,000 kids with Safe Routes to School programs at every school district in the Metro-area.  
Thank you!

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It's Unanimous! CPR in Schools Legislation Passes Oregon Legislature

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director 

If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive. But most do not. That’s a reality that’s about to change in Oregon.

On May 28th, Senate Bill 79, a bill that would require all Oregon students to be trained in CPR before graduation successfully passed out of the Oregon House of Representatives. This milestone marked the last vote for the “CPR in Schools” legislation, and continued the bill’s track record of broad support. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown where it will await her signature.

SB 79 is a major victory for Oregonians. It will help create 45,000 new lifesavers a year by ensuring every student learns the simple, life-saving skill of CPR. This is important because each year, nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and only 10.4% of these victims survive. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen any place, at any time—4 out of 5 in the U.S. happen at home.

However, CPR is easy to learn and simple. After calling 9-1-1, push hard and fast in the center of the chest at 100 beats per minute. When a CPR-trained bystander is near, they can double, even triple these victims’ survival rates by giving victims the help they need until the EMTs arrive.

The success of the bill is due to dozens of dedicated advocates who spoke up by meeting with legislators, testified in the State Capitol, and shared their expertise and stories. It is also due to the hundreds of Oregonians who signed letters to legislators, calling for action.

A special thanks to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Joanne Hatch, Chief Mike Duyck, Piseth Pich, Valley Catholic Middle School, Herb Lommen, Raoul Meekcoms, Jennifer Stafford, Legacy Health, Josh Moore, Kaylee Nelson, Clackamas Fire District #1, William Conway, Tamara Owen, Dr. Minot Cleveland, Dr. Robert Quintos, Jim Balsiger, Julien Comardelle, Andrew Gable, South Salem High School, Kathy August, Ali Massey, Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue, Jay Woods, Dr. Erin Burnham, Sandi Mackey and Tina Kaufman. Without the advocacy of these special volunteers, we couldn’t have done it.

Oregon joins 20 other states who have already passed CPR in Schools legislation.

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Kaylee Nelson: The lives we will save

My name is Kaylee Nelson, and I live in Springfield, Oregon. I’m a recent University of Oregon graduate, the current Miss Three Rivers, and a volunteer with Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue’s CPR in schools initiative, ACT:C3.

I’d like to share with you why Senate Bill 79 (CPR in Schools) is important for Oregon.

Cardiac arrest can happen at anytime, anywhere. Four out of five times, it happens at home. While the life that you save could be a stranger, it’s more likely to be a friend or family member. The last time that it was studied, Oregon ranked as the 5th worst state for cardiac arrest survival (MMWR Feb 15, 2002 51(06):123-6).

I know firsthand what it’s like to feel helpless in an emergency when a loved one is in trouble. In 2011, I watched as my sister had a seizure. It is such a terrible feeling to watch someone you love go through something like that and to feel utterly helpless at the same time. What frustrates me the most is that there was only one person out of a crowd of twenty that stepped forward to help her. Thankfully my sister did not need CPR that day, but I knew that I never wanted to feel helpless like that ever again. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.

That’s why I have volunteered my time to support the work of Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue and their initiative to improve survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest. Since 2012, the department has trained approximately 3,000 students in Hands-Only CPR at 10 middle and high schools in Lane County. They’ve enlisted the help of other community members, including college students from the Alpha Phi sorority at the University of Oregon.

During these classroom trainings, I have found that CPR is both easy to learn and simple to teach. We are able to educate students about CPR, as well as to provide students with hands-on training and practice within one class period. Teachers are welcoming and helpful. Students are excited, engaged, and empowered.

The work of fire departments like Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue is invaluable—but they can’t do it alone. Schools can play a critical role in helping to equip the next generation with this simple, lifesaving skill. Ensuring that CPR training is required for all students will put more lifesavers into every community across the state. Across the country, 21 states have passed similar legislation requiring students to be CPR-trained prior to graduating. It’s time for Oregon to join in.

Anyone can learn CPR and everyone should know how. With this bill alone, 45,000 trained lifesavers will be added to our Oregon community every year. Think of the lives they will save.

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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 a video highlighting our award winners below.

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