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Cardiac arrest survivors thank their rescuers

Fire District urges everyone to get CPR training

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District boardroom was filled with sudden cardiac arrest survivors, their families and the public safety personnel who helped to save them, on Wednesday evening.

It was the annual recognition of survivors and the response crews who assisted them, by the Fire District along with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association and Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Services. One-by-one each survivor came up to the podium and spoke about their experiences and thanked the men and women who helped them.

The survivors included a 10-year-old boy, a father of three, and a man who both survived a cardiac arrest and provided CPR to another person. Each of their presentations had a similar thread, one of thanks and one of outreach to others to become trained in CPR and the proper use of an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator).

"After a sudden cardiac arrest, a person's chance for survival decreases by 10 percent every minute CPR and defibrillation are not administered," said Fire Chief Richard Price during the presentations. "I challenge everyone in the community to become CPR and AED trained as part of the District's HeartSafe Community initiative."

In order to be designated as HeartSafe, a community must be awarded enough qualifying "points" from Contra Costa County Health Services and the American Heart Association. Points are awarded to a community if certain criteria are met, such as implementation of an enhanced 911 system, having specially trained first responders and having local hospitals and ambulances equipped with specific life saving devices. A large number of points can also be awarded for having a sizeable percentage of community members trained to administer CPR and use an AED.

"We want to become the first HeartSafe Community in Contra Costa County," said Captain Andy Swartzell, EMS Coordinator for the Fire District. "We have almost reached our goal. Now we need the help of our residents to get us the rest of the way."

CPR and AED classes are held throughout the community, including monthly classes given by the Fire District. Another option geared toward entire families is the American Heart Association's CPR Anytime Program. By purchasing the program's instructional DVD and manikin, family members can learn the simple steps to save a life in under 25 minutes.

For more information on local CPR and AED classes visit the District's Web site at www.firedepartment.org/community or www.cchealth.org. For more information about the HeartSafe Community initiative or the CPR Anytime Program visit www.americanheart.org.

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District service area encompasses approximately 155 square miles, covering the communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, the Town of Danville, Diablo, the City of San Ramon, the southern boundary of Morgan Territory and the Tassajara Valley, all located in Contra Costa County. The District has 185 full-time employees and 50 volunteers.

— staff reports

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