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Steve Goulet, Rhode Island

We recently had the pleasure of meeting an amazing new advocate!  Steve Goulet is a cardiac arrest survivor - and now he's on a personal mission to save lives with CPR.  Check out his incredible story in The Providence Journal:

Photo credit: The Providence Journal

http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150604/NEWS/150609610 

A story of revival: Woonsocket EMT's cardiac arrest becomes mission to save lives with CPR

After a long day of work at his garage in 2006, Steven Goulet sat down at the bar with his buddy and ordered a cold beer.

He didn't have so much as a sip. 

The moment the drink arrived, his eyes rolled back and he slumped over, his head hitting the bar. 

Goulet doesn’t remember any of what happened next — not the nurse who rushed to his side, not the frantic chest compressions she and others performed, not the 22 minutes that passed before his pulse could be restored. At 27, he was in full cardiac arrest.

Even if Goulet survived, the doctors told his family as he lay comatose in the hospital, he’d probably be severely brain damaged.

But when Goulet finally came to, not only was he his old self, but he quickly learned that CPR had likely saved him. It was a life-changing experience.

Since then, Goulet, eager to save other people's lives, has become an EMT and performed CPR on countless patients.  He's also sought to encourage everyday people to learn basic CPR skills.

“It’s amazing,” he says after recounting what happened to him in the bar nine years ago. “If nobody knew how to do CPR, I would have never made it.”

Nurse wouldn't give up

Born and raised in Blackstone, Mass., owned a car repair business in his hometown before his life would forever change. It meant working long hours. When his friend stopped by the garage close to 11 p.m., he was surprised to see Goulet still at work. 

“He said, let’s go grab a beer,” Goulet said. 

On reflection, Goulet said he was fortunate he hadn’t been left alone — and even more fortunate that a nurse was at the bar when they got to the Millerville Club. When his buddy yelled for help, she began CPR and, when she tired, got others in the bar to help take turns. 

Again and again they checked for a pulse. Nothing. It went on for about 15 minutes. 

“People said, ‘Stop, stop. He’s going to be brain dead,'" he later learned. But, he said, “She just kept going.” 

Town paramedics arrived after about 15 minutes. It was another seven minutes before they restored his pulse. Brain damage can occur after as little as three minutes without a pulse and death in as little as four to six minutes, according to the National Library of Medicine. 

Goulet initially went to Landmark Hospital in Woonsocket before being transferred to Rhode Island Hospital. Meanwhile, an emergency room physician at Landmark, who after going home puzzled over what caused Goulet’s cardiac arrest, stumbled upon something in a medical text that he thought was the answer.

It was Brugada syndrome, an electrical disorder in the heart that can cause lethal arrhythmias and is sometimes genetic. He called doctors at Rhode Island Hospital and, although Goulet had no family history of Brugada, his suspicions were later confirmed. 

Surgeons implanted a defibrillator in Goulet's chest to shock his heart when the abnormal ventricular rhythms occurred. But because they were happening so frequently, he later began taking a medication that dramatically reduced the need for those shocks.

A new life

Returning to running his garage was too stressful. So Goulet, who is married with children, set out to find a new career. After learning that his condition prevented him from becoming a truck driver, he began taking EMT courses, inspired by his own experience. 

“That’s why I wanted to be an EMT. I felt like I’d have more compassion for people and what they were going through,” Goulet says. “If that happened to someone else, I wanted to help them the way people were able to help me."

Eventually, he earned an “EMT-Cardiac” license. After volunteering and working part-time for the Chepachet Fire Department, he took a full-time job in Woonsocket with Medtech Ambulance. 

Coincidentally, on Goulet's first day on the job, he was assigned to ride with Michael Marcoux, who was the leader of the team of paramedics that helped save his life. As a deputy fire chief with the Blackstone Fire Department, Marcoux joined two other EMTs in taking over resuscitation efforts from the nurse, bar customers and a police officer who arrived moments earlier. 

“It was an awesome team effort,” says Marcoux. When it comes to cardiac arrest, “very, very seldom do you have an outcome like Steven.” 

Since becoming an EMT, and joining a busy ambulance service, Goulet figures he’s administered CPR hundreds of times. 

“I’ve saved lives and gotten them to the hospital. Even if I hadn’t gotten a pulse back … [the emergency room] had a viable patient to work with,” he says. “ It’s a passion now. I’ve never been happier than what I’m doing now.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Governor Raimondo Signs Rhode Island Stroke Bill Into Law

Governor Gina Raimondo has signed our stroke bill into law – ensuring the best possible care for stroke patients in the Ocean State!  The bill had been unanimously approved by the Rhode Island House and Senate. 

The new law makes some important updates to the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act of 2009. While the changes in the stroke bill are fairly minor, they are important and will allow the Rhode Island Stroke Task Force to continue its charge of improving the system of care for stroke patients in the Ocean State.  Revisions include: 

  • Relaxing the stroke registry reporting requirement by allowing hospitals flexibility to use different data platforms; 
  • Adding a Comprehensive Stroke Center designation.  This is a level above the Primary Stroke Centers created by the original law - there is already one hospital in Rhode Island that has achieved this high level designation; and,
  • Requiring an annual review of the EMS Pre-Hospital Care Protocol for stroke.  

When the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act was enacted nearly six years ago, there were just two Primary Stroke Centers in Rhode Island.  We now have seven Primary Stroke Centers and one Comprehensive Stroke Center.  Thanks to the work of the Stroke Task Force and dedicated You’re the Cure advocates, Rhode Island is considered a national model for stroke care.   

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2015 Rhode Island Legislative Session - Wrap Up

The Legislative Session came to an abrupt end on June 25th after House and Senate negotiations reached an impasse. Dozens of bills were left in limbo – including our competitive foods/school nutrition & healthy school marketing bills.

As you know, the competitive foods/school nutrition bill and the healthy school marketing bill were top priorities for the American Heart Association and our coalition partners.  The first bill would have updated Rhode Island’s competitive foods/school nutrition guidelines to align with new USDA regulations (competitive foods means anything sold outside of – and in competition with – the school meals program such as vending, a la carte, school stores and in-school fundraisers).  The second bill would have ensured that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property. 

Both bills were unanimously approved by the Rhode Island Senate.  On the last day of session, our competitive foods/school nutrition bill gained momentum – it was quickly approved by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee and immediately placed on the House floor calendar.  As far as we know, our healthy school marketing bill was part of a bundle of smaller bills that were still being negotiated by the House and Senate.  Later that night, the House and Senate came to a stalemate and the session abruptly ended.  Dozens of bills were left on the floor calendar – including our competitive foods/school nutrition bill.  Our healthy school marketing bill was left on the negotiating table. Unfortunately, this had nothing to do with the merit of our bills and everything to do with politics – which made it extra disappointing. 

We came so close to victory – and it’s the outreach of our amazing You’re the Cure advocates that helped us get to that point!  We will be ready at the earliest opportunity to tackle these bills again – whether it’s during a special session this fall or January 2016.

In the meantime, we need to celebrate our two big wins this year: our stroke bill was signed into law by Governor Raimondo, ensuring quality care for all stroke patients in Rhode Island; and, the Rhode Island Department of Health adopted regulations ensuring that every newborn in Rhode Island will receive a pulse oximetry test to screen for critical congenital heart defects effective July 1, 2015.  Congratulations everyone!!!

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Rhode Island GET HEALTHY! Poster Contest Award Recipients

The American Heart Association and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island hosted the 2015 GET HEALTHY! Poster Contest Award Ceremony at the Rhode Island State House on May 20th.  The award ceremony recognized eleven outstanding students in grades K-8.  Winning students demonstrated how physical activity and healthy eating helps build healthy hearts, healthy families and healthy communities. Several hundred posters from all over Rhode Island were submitted for consideration this year.

Congratulations to our award recipients!

Grades K-1:
1st place – Averi Senecal from Winsor Hill School in Johnston

2nd place – Mackenzie Barrette from Wawaloam School in Exeter
3rd place – Kamaiina Jackman from Tiogue School in Coventry

Grades 2-4:
1st place – Mia Clancy from North Scituate Elementary
2nd place – Caroline Pesenecker & Casey Khuon from Winsor Hill in Johnston
3rd place – Michael Psilopoulas & Dante Iafrate from Winsor Hill in Johnston

Grades 5-8:
1st place – Isabella Luchka from North Scituate Elementary
2nd place – Isabelle Besser from North Scituate Elementary
3rd place – Sienna Fusaro from Westerly Middle School

The American Heart Association is committed to helping kids and families live heart healthy lives!  As we educate and lobby lawmakers to support policies that promote access to healthy foods and safe places to play and be active in Rhode Island, we wanted to take the extra step to get students involved.

Many thanks to our generous sponsor: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island!

 

 

 

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Rhode Island Advocates Participate in State & Federal Lobby Days

The week of May 11th was busy for Rhode Island advocates! A small group traveled to Washington, D.C. May 11th & 12th to meet with the RI Congressional Delegation – and on May 13th, advocates gathered at the State House for RI Lobby Day.

Federal Lobby Day:  More than 380 You're the Cure advocates descended on Washington, D.C. May 11th & 12th for You're the Cure on the Hill.  Rhode Island was represented by John Potvin, EMT-C, Vice Chair of the RI Advocacy Committee; Tracey Kennedy, stroke survivor and Immediate Past Chair of the RI Advocacy Committee; Ron Kennedy, Tracey’s husband and caregiver; and, Megan Tucker, AHA Director of Government Relations. The group had very productive meetings with Senators Reed and Whitehouse and staff for Representatives Langevin and Cicilline.  Advocates asked the RI Congressional Delegation to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and to support strong school nutrition standards, and also to make cardiovascular disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

State Lobby Day:  On May 13th, Rhode Island advocates gathered at the State House to help build support for the AHA’s priority issues.  Advocates asked their legislators to support our bill that would eliminate unhealthy food and beverage advertising in schools by making sure that federal and state nutrition standards also apply to advertising/marketing.  They also asked legislators to support funding to purchase new CPR equipment/manikins for all public high schools to help implement the 2013 CPR in Schools Law.  

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Rhode Island House & Senate Approve Stroke Bill

The Rhode Island House of Representatives and the Rhode Island Senate have unanimously passed our stroke bill, ensuring quality stroke care for Rhode Islanders!

This bill makes some important updates to the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act of 2009. While the changes in the stroke bill are fairly minor, they are important and will allow the Rhode Island Stroke Task Force to continue its charge of improving the system of care for stroke patients in the Ocean State.  Proposed updates include:

  • Relaxing the stroke registry reporting requirement by allowing hospitals flexibility to use different data platforms; 
  • Adding a Comprehensive Stroke Center designation.  This is a level above the Primary Stroke Centers created by the original Law - there is already one hospital in Rhode Island that has achieved this high level designation; and,
  • Adding language that would require an annual review of the EMS Pre-Hospital Care Protocols for stroke.  

When the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act was enacted nearly six years ago, there were just two Primary Stroke Centers in Rhode Island.  We now have seven Primary Stroke Centers and one Comprehensive Stroke Center.  Thanks to the work of the Stroke Task Force and dedicated You’re the Cure advocates, Rhode Island is considered a national model for stroke care. 

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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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Rhode Island Senate to Vote on School Marketing Bill

Great news!  On March 25, the Senate Education Committee voted to recommend passage of our bill that would prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertising in Rhode Island schools.  A vote before the full Senate is expected soon.

National, state, and local efforts have greatly improved the nutritional quality of foods served in our schools, but some schools still allow the advertising of foods high in calories, fat, and sugar. You might assume that since it can’t be served in school it can’t be advertised there, but companies have found the loophole and we need to close it. Schools should be a safe and nurturing environment – we need to make sure our kids don’t get bombarded by ads trying to make them lifelong customers of fast food or soda companies.

We’re almost there Rhode Island!  According to a recent report, more than 80% of Rhode Island middle schools and high schools already prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertisements in school buildings, on school grounds, on school buses and in school publications.  Let’s get to 100% and ensure a healthy school environment for all Rhode Island students. 

Be on the lookout for more action alerts on this important issue as it moves through the legislative process!

 

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Rhode Island House Committee Considers Funding CPR in Schools

On March 18, Dr. Brian Silver, President of the American Heart Association’s Rhode Island Board of Directors, asked the House Finance Committee to include funding in the FY 2016 Budget to purchase new CPR manikins for all public high schools in the Ocean State.  Dr. Silver noted in his testimony that the relatively small amount of funding requested could go a long way toward helping schools implement the 2013 CPR in Schools Law.      

The CPR in Schools Law requires high school students to receive hands-on CPR training and an overview of automated external defibrillator (AED) use prior to graduation as part of the health education curriculum.  While there are many ways this can be accomplished, providing purpose-built CPR manikins will help ensure quality training for all students.     

Right now, approximately 90 percent of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest do not survive – most die because they do not receive bystander CPR.  The death rate is staggering and tragic.  With your help, we are going to change that in Rhode Island by creating a generation of lifesavers and heroes.  CPR is one of life’s critical lessons – let’s make sure our students are as prepared as possible to save a life.  

Click the following link to ask our state leaders to include funding in the FY 2016 Budget for CPR in Schools: https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=36483 

Many thanks to Dr. Silver for testifying on this important issue!

 

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