Story of the Month: Saving many lives from one cardiac arrest

  • Newsroom
  • >
  • Story of the Month: Saving many lives from one cardiac arrest

Lynn Blake, who attributes her life being saved because of CPR and early defibrillation, created Starting Hearts in 2010.  At the age of 27, she experienced a sudden cardiac arrest while at work on the second day of a new job.  Fortunately, someone yelled for help and 911 was called, a nearby co-worker quickly started CPR and within minutes the Vail Fire Fighters used a DEFIB to deliver three shocks to her chest and restoring her life.  Lynn realized how blessed she was to have been given another chance at life and was compelled to save others by establishing Starting Hearts.

Starting Hearts puts the community first and believes there’s nothing more important than saving a life.  Our mission is to save the lives of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) victims and we do this by providing a platform for citizens, supporters, and community stakeholders to improve outcomes for sudden cardiac arrest victims. We accomplish this through empowering education, widespread distribution of defibrillators in public locations, and activation of citizen first responders to confidently and capably provide early care when needed.

SCA can happen to anyone regardless of age or health status so it’s important to be prepared and know how to respond to an emergency situation such as this. Lynn created a free CALL.PUSH. SHOCK.™ training, to teach people how to quickly respond by calling 911, administering chest compressions and using a defibrillator to save precious minutes before EMS arrives.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the nation’s number one cause of preventable death and every year EMS teams respond to nearly 400,000 Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) events and less than 10% survive.  With early intervention, the chance of a SCA victim surviving increases greatly, sometimes up to 70%.  With every minute that passes without emergency care or bystander intervention, the chance of survival reduces by 10%, and brain damage occurs after four minutes.

Starting Hearts offers several programs to help SCA victims, including placing DEFIBs in accessible locations in the community, and in this way, we are working to increase the chances of survival when the unexpected happens.  Together we can make our community safer by increasing access to defibrillators and making sure people know how to use them.

One of the most exciting and rewarding things that our organization does is to teach our CALL.PUSH.SHOCK.™ classes to children K-12 in the school systems. This free 45-minute hands-on CPR/DEFIB training helps teach people how to save the lives of SCA victims. To-date, thousands of citizens from five-year-olds to senior citizens have taken this empowering class; and some have already saved a life! In class, students learn the causes of and how to recognize sudden cardiac arrest, how to activate the emergency response system.

We have two other programs including our Nearest DEFIB™ program, which increases access to defibrillators in public & private places through a mobile app called Pulse Point. The Neighbor Saver ™program, in cooperation with Pulse Point, is a citizen responder program that utilizes a free, downloadable mobile app to alert citizens of a nearby cardiac arrest, allowing individuals to quickly respond.

We are very involved in the community and look for every opportunity to raise awareness, educate and train our citizens.  The partnership with community stakeholders is of the utmost importance because they support our efforts to expand our defibrillator program across the county.  We are so thankful to our county officials, individual Town government officials, Sheriff and Police departments, as well as the business community and the Eagle County School District. Without these key stakeholders, Starting Hearts would not be able to achieve the outstanding life-saving results that we have accomplished.

The survivor rate for a Sudden Cardiac Arrest victim is less than 10% nationwide, with an even lower percentage in Colorado and in Denver – at a dismal 6%.  The survivor rate for someone in Eagle County is 25%, two and a half times the national average and four times the local and national average. These are amazing results and wonderful evidence that our life-saving programs are working.

Our organization’s goal is to make Eagle County and the nearby surrounding counties the safest place in the world to experience a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  Nationally, we want to save 100,000 lives per year by the year 2040. Eagle County is a model for other communities to follow; by raising awareness of SCA and what can be done through education and training, quick action and citizen bystander intervention; precious lives can be saved all across the country.  Ultimately we would like to create Starting Hearts Communities all across the state and nation.

There is no other organization that we know of – nationally or internationally that does what Starting Hearts does. Aside from working with community and local government to implement public defibrillators at highly trafficked areas and providing our free CALL.PUSH.SHOCK.™ classes, we also provide CPR Certifications through the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and the Health and Safety Institute. Individuals and businesses can also purchase defibrillators from our website and learn about our DEFIB service program.