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Cardiac Ready Project Helps Save Lives in Rural ND

The Cardiac Ready Communities project has four parts, including CPR training and making sure there is public access to AEDs. (Anita Hart/Flickr)
The Cardiac Ready Communities project has four parts, including CPR training and making sure there is public access to AEDs. (Anita Hart/Flickr)
November 2, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. -- The American Heart Association is helping North Dakota communities prepare to save lives by presenting nearly $100,000 to the North Dakota Department of Health to support the Cardiac Ready Communities project.

The funds were collected over the last few years on Giving Hearts Day, held in February. During the 2017 session, state lawmakers passed a bill establishing a grant program for the project, which educates people on how they can help someone in the event of a cardiac emergency.

Erv Inniger is a heart attack survivor and member of the Heart Association's advocacy committee.

"The first five minutes are probably the most critical of all,” Inniger said. "And so right now, you can help a neighbor, a friend, a coworker, a family member be saved if you just have some people in the community that know what they're doing."

Getting to patients in those first five minutes is a challenge in rural parts of the state, where emergency services often have to travel great distances to get to someone. That makes bystander responses all the more critical in these areas.

So far, four communities have received Cardiac Ready designation, including Powers Lake, Rugby, Mayville and Valley City. Twenty-two more have submitted letters of intent.

The program lays out four steps to prepare communities. First, know the signs and symptoms of a cardiac emergency. If someone is experiencing a crisis, call 911 and begin CPR. Lastly, communities need to make sure there is public access to Automated External Defibrillators.

Inniger said one important component of the project is making people feel ready in an emergency situation.

"There's just all sorts of things to make sure you're comfortable knowing what you're doing, and that's where the educational process comes in is that these people can tell you, step by step, what you need,” he said.

The Heart Association says the initiative already has saved cardiac and stroke victims' lives.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND