Banner Health News Center  

North Colorado’s CardioVascular Institute aims for Heart Safe City


GREELEY, Colo. (Dec. 19, 2012) – Are you “heart safe” in your community? Don’t know? Ask yourself:

  • How many people around you can recognize the symptoms of cardiac arrest? If they do, do they know how to get help “on the way, right away?”
  • Who around you knows cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and is ready to provide it when necessary?
  • Where is the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED), and is there anyone around who knows how to use it appropriately?

With a little help, Greeley residents will be able to answer these questions with confidence and feel good as a Heart Safe City.

The Heart Safe City designation, sponsored by the City of Greeley, Greeley Fire Department, Banner North Colorado Medical Center Paramedic Services and CardioVascular Institute, is a community-wide effort to educate residents on the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest. Identifying symptoms, learning how to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are major components.

Sudden cardiac arrest – a condition in which the heartbeat stops abruptly and unexpectedly -- is a leading cause of death in the United States claiming more than 325,000 lives annually. Brain death begins to occur four to six minutes after cardiac arrest. Chances of survival drop by 7-10 percent with every minute that passes without CPR and the use of an AED.  Ninety-five percent of deaths from sudden cardiac arrest occur before a victim reaches the hospital. They are often witnessed by a family member, friends or coworker.

If more people were educated in CPR and AEDs were more widely available in the community, the survival rates could be as high as 45 percent.

The Heart Safe City initiative calls for placement of AEDs in public gathering spots throughout the city buildings including the airport, shopping centers, swimming pools and schools. Additionally, the community residents must have access to training on the AEDs as well as CPR.

Dave Bressler, director for Banner Health Weld County Paramedic Services, explains how a situation might happen. If someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest at the mall and calls the emergency dispatch center, the dispatcher directs the person to the nearest AED in the facility. Then, the machine talks the person through the process. At the same time, the dispatcher coordinates ambulance and fire department response.

“What saves people is having CPR performed by a true first responder – that first person at the scene when someone goes down,” Bressler said.

Recently the Greeley Police Department added AEDs to their vehicles in an effort to pursue the Heart Safe designation.

Dawn Olson, director of the CardioVascular Institute of North Colorado, said that the determination for the Heart Safe Designation is based on how many points a municipality earns. The city receives points for CPR training, the number and access of AEDs in specific areas including recreation centers and schools and with emergency first responders and the availability of advanced life support personnel to respond to sudden cardiac emergencies.

Olson said the community has worked hard to earn points toward the designation. The next step is to purchase AEDs for the area schools. At $1,800 each, the fund raising goal is a large undertaking and being coordinated by the North Colorado Medical Center Foundation.

For more information about purchasing an AED for the campaign or contributing, call NCMC Foundation director Chris Kiser at (970) 350-6775.

NCMC is a fully accredited, private, nonprofit facility licensed to operate 398 beds. It serves as a regional medical center with community-based and specialty services in a service area including southern Wyoming, western Nebraska, western Kansas and northeastern Colorado. A family-centered obstetrics unit, cardiovascular, oncology, ortho/neuro, Level II trauma, Western States Burn Center and acute inpatient rehabilitation are among the many services offered through the medical center. Nearly 400,000 square feet of new patient care space was added to the northern Colorado region when the NCMC opened an expanded facility in December 2005. Included is the CardioVascular Institute of North Colorado featuring state-of-the-art heart services; expanded birthing center and neonatal care unit, new intensive care units and new surgical suites.

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