Vail Health Magazine 2013 - page 41

“Your chances of survival
decrease by 10 percent
with every minute that
goes by after a cardiac
arrest.” —Lynn Blake
in saving her life.
The two officially kicked off their campaign
to make Eagle County “the safest place to
have a sudden cardiac arrest” on Feb. 14,
2013, the 6-year anniversary of Blake’s arrest.
The heart-health morning gave participants
an opportunity to receive an EKG; carotid
artery and vein ultrasound; and cholesterol
and triglyceride tests.
Participants also heard Blake’s person-
al story of survival. “If I were in any other
location, if I were still on my honeymoon, if
the Vail Fire Department had not been right
across the street, or if any other aspect of this
day had been any different, I would not be alive
today,” she said. “A day has not passed without
reflecting on the blessings that I have received.”
Dr. Gaul spoke on the effects of high altitude
on the heart. “The problem that we run into
[in Vail] is we have a lot of residents who travel
extensively,” said Dr. Gaul. “Remember when you
come back, you have to re-acclimatize. That’s a
big deal. Don’t hit the gym right when you get
back to elevation, that’s not a good idea ... If you
spend a day in Denver, you decrease your risk of
acute mountain sickness by 40 percent. That in-
termediate altitude offsets a lot of the problems.”
American Heart Association National Phy-
sician of the Year from 2002, Dr. Terry Gordon,
spoke about his experiences with CPR and
AED in saving lives, emphasizing his personal
belief that every police and sheriff vehicle
should be equipped with an AED, and the
officer trained to use it.
“Sixty percent of the time law enforcement
get to a medical emergency first,” he said. “They
can deliver the life saving shock three and a
half minutes quicker than if you wait for the
paramedics ... If you’re shocked by a cop, your
chance of walking out of the hospital is 10 times
greater than if you wait for the paramedic. Ev-
ery law enforcement vehicle in your community
should have an AED in it.”
AWomanwith a Plan
Blake’s plan with Starting Hearts is five-fold.
Sudden cardiac arrest experienced outside of a
hospital is not a “reportable condition,” accord-
ing to the Center for Disease Control, so it’s not
mandated that any agencies provide data about
sudden cardiac arrest. Blake says this could
help give us an understanding about survival
rates in different settings.
The first component of her plan is creating
a database of that info, via volunteers and
responding agencies who report it. “Without a
sudden cardiac arrest registry, we have no idea
what the survival rates are,” says Blake.
Part two would be getting people involved in
it. “We need to mobilize our entire community
… all the towns, Vail and Beaver Creek moun-
tains, law enforcement, schools, businesses,
neighborhoods, individuals, law enforcement,
we need everyone to participate,” she says.
Third is CPR and AED education for every-
one in our community. “We need to have people
practicing compressions on manikins — we’d
love to have 50 percent of our population
trained and re-trained every year,” she says. “Af-
ter observing the CPR techniques of thousands
of people, even doctors and medical profession-
als do not push hard enough (in performing
chest compressions). It really takes hands-on
practice on a manikin to effectively respond.
Getting certified and doing it two years ago is
not recent enough.”
Fourth is increasing access to defibrillation.
“AEDs need to be strategically placed through-
out Eagle County; this includes emergen-
cy response vehicles, schools, businesses,
neighborhoods, restaurants, hotels, at the top
of every chair lift, public events and more, and
each should have consistent and extensive
signage directing people to the location of the
AED,” says Blake.
And finally, fifth is a program called Neighbor
Saver that’s bringing it all together. “We want
to take the people who have learned how to
perform CPR and use an AED, and register
them into a system where they would be able to
receive alerts from dispatch whenever there’s a
cardiac arrest nearby,” says Blake. “Your chances
of survival decrease by 10 percent with every
minute that goes by after a cardiac arrest. The
average response time is usually eight or more
minutes, so if they’re waiting on emergency
personnel to arrive, they’re not going to survive.”
If the Starting Hearts’ plan is executed and
Blake’s vision carried out, it will make Eagle
County the safest place in the world to expe-
rience a sudden cardiac arrest. But she needs
community help. Get involved by visiting her
website at
, or mailing
a donation to Starting Hearts, PO Box 4318,
Avon, CO 81620.
Lynn Blake, left, and Dr. Larry Gaul, below, are
spearheading a program that educates the local
population on using defibrillators and administering
CPR correctly. It includes hosting talks with guest
speakers such as Dr. Morton Mower, who
invented the implantable defibrillator.
Dr. Larry Gaul
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