Nearly 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home and 93 percent of victims do not survive because bystanders do not know how to respond. Big Wild Heart of Alaska is a program of the American Heart Association, making significant progress in training Alaskans with basic CPR skills. Learn more in this week's post.
The majority of Alaskans do not know or remember how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Nearly 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home and 93 percent of victims do not survive because bystanders do not know how to respond. It was against this backdrop in early 2010 that Rasmuson Foundation awarded a Tier 1 grant to the American Heart Association in support of its “Big Wild Heart of Alaska” project, a statewide program to train citizens in CPR and determine the most strategic locations for Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs).
In 2009, Anchorage-based Loren Marshall Foundation and the Anchorage Fire Department were joined by funding partners from Providence Alaska Medical Center, Alaska Regional Hospital, and the Alaska Chapter of the American Heart Association to implement the project in the Anchorage School District. The program effectively trained every 8th grade student in CPR. Students were encouraged to take the kits home and train their family and friends. The success of the multiplier effect was so significant that Big Wild Heart Alaska gained national attention from the Medtronic Foundation. Medtronic provided funding to purchase kits and to continue the Anchorage program for an additional year.
The five-year goal of Big Wild Heart of Alaska is to continue outreach and develop a contact network throughout both urban and rural Alaska to develop a statewide implementation plan. While there are many people who seek out CPR training on their own or are provided training as a part of their job, the Big Wild Heart of Alaska training is designed to reach a broader audience and instruct lay people, including teens, in this life-saving practice. Rasmuson Foundation PRI Committee member Sharon Kelly took the training over a lunch hour recently in the state capital. We asked her a couple questions about the experience.
Rasmuson Foundation: Lots of people are familiar with the Red Cross CPR and First Aid training programs. How does this compare?
Sharon Kelly: I’ve taken the Red Cross CPR and First Aid training programs, it was an all day Saturday training to get certified. Big Wild Heart training took 20 minutes. It was simple, concise and used the right tools – a training DVD and Mini Anne ™ learning manikin (see photo). I left the training with the confidence to at least try saving someone with these techniques.
RF: So this is something just about anyone can do? In your case it was offered as part of a lunch hour staff gathering, correct?
SK: I believe anyone can do this of a certain age – I did try to have my grandson try it but he wasn’t quite strong enough yet, he’s 10. The plan is to educate all Alaska eighth graders yearly. Anyone could get this training who is willing to spend 20 minutes in training.
RF: Sounds fairly simple and extremely important. Thanks, Sharon.