According to the American Heart Association, 350,000 people die each year from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, approximately 13 percent of all the deaths in the United States. Nationally, the chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is only 12 percent.
Clay Gibbons, owner of GatorCPR and president of HeartSafe City Foundation, created HeartSafe City Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, to make the community safer. HeartSafe City’s mission is to increase the number of individuals trained in CPR by offering free or reduced-price training. They also fundraise to increase the number of automated external defibrillators (AED) in our community.
CPR and AEDs can greatly increase the chance of survival when someone suffers out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. According to Gator CPR’s website, cardiac arrest survival rates are directly proportional to the number of members in a community who can perform CPR, as well as the availability of AEDs.
“All we want to do is educate people. If you don’t know CPR, learn it,” Gibbons said. “Whether you are a church, business, civic group, club, government or school, every type of organization can become involved by hosting any one of the many programs GatorCPR and HeartSafe City offer.”
The programs include educational courses like KidSavers, Family and Friends CPR, GatorSavers: $5 CPR, CPR Lunch ‘n Learns and HeartSafe Schools. With these programs, learning CPR is easy, hands-on, affordable and, most importantly, lifesaving.
KidSavers is held the first Monday of each month for anyone who has the desire to learn CPR and is especially for families with children. Attendees learn CPR, how to use an AED and how to relieve choking. This program is $10 per person, and all funds go towards the purchase of an AED for the community.
GatorSavers: $5 CPR is a one-day, mass CPR event held every February. This event has trained more than 3,500 individuals in CPR since 2012.
In the HeartSafe Schools program, HeartSafe City and GatorCPR visit schools throughout the year and introduce the basics of CPR to elementary and middle school students. Every year they educate about 4,000 students.
Any money collected, including donations and sponsorships, are used to purchase an AED for the community. An AED is a portable electronic device that is used to treat sudden cardiac arrest through defibrillation and electrical therapy. While they can drastically increase the survival rate, the cost of an AED starts at $1,200, so many good organizations cannot afford one. With the help of HeartSafe City Foundation and GatorCPR, organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the Arc of Alachua County, Grace Marketplace and several others are a little bit safer after receiving AEDs from HeartSafe City.
Noah Hastay, operations manager at Gainesville Health and Fitness, believes you can never be too prepared for an emergency.
“Over the nearly 40 years Gainesville Health and Fitness has been in operation, heart attacks have occurred in which an AED was administered before EMS arrived,” Hastay said. “We have used our AEDs on three separate occasions, all of which the member’s life was spared.”
Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at anytime. Even with organizations like GatorCPR and HeartSafe City providing CPR training and AED awareness, there is more to do as a community. True first responders are individuals who identify someone in sudden cardiac arrest and begin CPR or locate an AED, even before emergency services arrive. The community’s involvement is the most crucial aspect to successfully saving lives and placing AEDs to increase the survival rates in our community.
Visit HeartSafeCity.org to learn more.