My Experience at the Cardiac Arrest Survival Summit and Parent Heart Watch Annual Heart-to-Heart

In the realm of healthcare and emergency response there are few events that are as pivotal as the Cardiac Arrest Survival Summit and the Parent Heart Watch Annual Heart-to-Heart. Both events share commonalities about the collective commitment to raising awareness, fostering community support, and advocating for improved outcome and responses to cardiac health and emergencies. I personally had the honor of attending both conferences, and in this blog will detail my experiences and insights.

I have been in the AED/AED Program Management industry for over 10 years. I have sold hundreds of AEDs, aligned businesses to be compliant with their AED programs, and advocated for people to get CPR/AED certified. Most recently, I have been an Instructor for the American Red Cross and trained thousands of people in CPR/AED. If you had asked me 10 years ago what the purpose behind my job was, I would have answered that I was just trying to get by as a single mom and needed a paycheck. Over time, I gained a greater understanding of the purpose of what I was doing and the why behind it. This WHY has elevated me to advocate and stand behind the true reason that AEDs and training are important, and the answer is simple: SAVE MORE LIVES. Too often we as human beings only get inspired to stand behind something when a tragedy happens, and in doing so we are missing the biggest opportunities to have influence and prevent tragedy from even happening. It seems easy enough, place AEDs, take training, and know how to do CPR and use an AED. Unfortunately, somewhere there is a gap, and the gruesome numbers tell their own story. There are 356,000 people a year that suffer from out-of-hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Ninety percent of these events are fatal. A statistic that is much too large, and we need to make a change.

This brings me to talk about the past two conferences that I attended. I have a tough time putting into words the immense impact that they had on me both professionally and personally. Both the Cardiac Arrest Survival Summit and the Parent Heart Watch Annual Heart-to-Heart are centered around building a community of individuals who have been affected by SCA, providing support, educating, training, raising awareness, and collaborating with the common goal of preventing cardiac emergencies, and improving survival rates.

During both events I had the opportunity to attend sessions to learn, engage, and listen to survivors share their stories. One of which was a wife who shared her bravery in doing compressions on her husband for over 10 minutes when he went into cardiac arrest in the early morning hours. She shared the 911 call from that very day, and I stared in a state of shock as I listened to her detail those very moments. As a wife myself, I felt the fear, but also the courage and bravery she exhibited during those key moments to save her husband’s life. At the Annual Heart-to-Heart, I listened to brave parents stand in their children’s honor advocating for change after they had suffered the unimaginable of losing their child to SCA.  I sat as I watched the parents gather around a memorial of children, too many children who have had their lives cut short by Sudden Cardiac Arrest. As a parent myself, I felt their pain and empathized with their loss. But also, commended them for going on, demanding change, and dedicating their time and efforts to helping prevent this from happening to other children.

Both organizations do such an amazing job of community focus, awareness, education, advocacy, and sharing personal stories to show that this is a real and true problem. Each conference ended with a call to action, and the need for more people to become advocates for cardiac health in their communities. They encouraged everyone to take what they learned and help improve survival rates and create safer communities. For me, this ignited a fire in me to do more, and gave me a push to become an ally with these and many other organizations with the broader mission of preventing and surviving cardiac emergencies. This is my WHY. I challenge you if you are reading this. To get involved and challenge the status quo. Educate yourself, become empowered, advocate for AEDs, and training.  Do your part, and if we all band together I know that we can have influence and Save More Lives.

This is the start of a montly series that will highlight non-profits that are making a difference in the outcome of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. If you are a non-profit and would like to be featured, or nominate someone else, please fill out the form below.