The Coon Rapids Heart Safe project has received international recognition.
The program took first place in the Citizen CPR Foundation’s 90-second public service announcement contest and was presented with the award last month at the foundation’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
There were 22 entries from not only the United States, but other countries as well, and Coon Rapids Heart Safe was named the winner after the entries had been winnowed to eight finalists.
The purpose of the contest was to promote the creation and development of public service announcements that focus on the importance of citizen CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) use.
As the first-place winner, Coon Rapids was the recipient of an AED to be placed in a Coon Rapids business.
The AED was presented in a ceremony July 8 at the Coon Rapids City Center by Allan Criss, vice president of sales for Physio Control, a leading developer in emergency response products.
According to Coon Rapids Police Officer Bryan Platz, who spearheaded Heart Safe Coon Rapids with a team of volunteers, the public service announcement titled “Meet Tim: Don’t Wait for the Help, Be the Help” was created by Bill Carson, a Coon Rapids resident and owner of billcarson.tv, a video, marketing, meetings and events company.
Carson edited the 90-second PSA from the seven-and-a-half-minute video he produced for Heart Safe Coon Rapids, which reconstructed what happened Oct. 3, 2013, at McCarthy Auto World, Coon Rapids, when employee Tim Hoffman went into sudden cardiac arrest and survived thanks to the efforts of fellow McCarthy employee Josh Gagner who performed CPR until arriving police officers Platz and Bob Trusler hooked up the AED from a squad car and brought Hoffman back to life.
Intervention by bystanders who know CPR is critical in sudden cardiac arrest situations before emergency responders arrive, according to Platz.
“We need bystander help,” Platz said.
“Tim was clinically dead for seven minutes before we were able to revive him,” he said.
It was Hoffman, who returned to work full time at McCarthy Auto World in March, who traveled to Las Vegas to receive the award on behalf of Heart Safe Coon Rapids.
“It was pretty amazing,” Hoffman said.
His life has changed drastically since his sudden cardiac arrest, Hoffman said, “I have learned CPR and AED use through Heart Safe Coon Rapids and am one of its trainers.”
In addition, Hoffman speaks to community groups and businesses as a sudden cardiac arrest survivor. He talks about the importance of having AEDs available in public places and being trained in the use of CPR and AED.
According to Platz, Heart Safe Coon Rapids will use the AED it received for winning the contest and another AED the program has purchased to sell at half-price to two businesses in the city because the businesses are more likely to maintain the AED if they have some investment in it.
Since the Heart Safe program started in Coon Rapids in early 2013, some 5,000 people have been trained in CPR and AED use, including employees of businesses, and AEDs have been placed in more than 130 businesses, Platz said.
Platz’s goal is to have half the population of Coon Rapids trained in CPR and AED; that would be about 30,000, he said.
“When I started I had no idea that it would become such a huge project,” Platz said.
Hoffman was among several sudden cardiac arrest survivors who filled the city council chambers for the AED presentation July 8. They included four Coon Rapids residents who spoke about their experiences.
One of those was Herb Johnson, 85, who went into sudden cardiac arrest at 119th Avenue and Zea Street Oct. 31, 2013.
The person who called 911 to report Johnson’s collapse only knew she was outside an apartment building near Anoka, not that they were only a couple of blocks from Mercy Hospital, Platz said.
Anoka County Central Communications used GPS to trace the phone call to an area covering 60 meters and as the police officer nearest the scene, Platz was able to find Johnson by the side of the road, he said.
“Herb had been clinically dead for about eight minutes and the bystander told me he was gone,” Platz said.
But Platz and arriving Coon Rapids firefighters and Allina emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were able to revive Johnson through the use of CPR and an AED and he was taken to Mercy, he said.
According to Johnson, he was in a coma for five days, but was released from the hospital after a week and spent another seven days in a nursing home undergoing cardiac rehabilitation before returning home.
“I have done nothing differently since then,” Johnson said. “I still enjoy playing the accordion, singing and entertaining people.”
Prior to the sudden cardiac arrest, Johnson had two heart attacks, one in 1994 and another in 2003, he said.
But a heart attack is not the same as sudden cardiac arrest, Platz said.
“In sudden cardiac arrest, your heart stops beating,” he said.
Coon Rapids was designated a heart safe community in the state in November 2013, the first in Anoka County. The program has two main goals – to ensure that AEDs are easily accessible in the community and to make sure the public is educated and trained to not only recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest, but also use CPR and AEDs.
Mayor Tim Howe credited the hard work of many people, including Platz, in Coon Rapids becoming heart safe community and earning the award.
“Bryan is very enthusiastic to put it lightly,” Howe said at the award presentation.
Following the ceremony, Platz conducted a CPR and AED training session at the city center.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, sudden cardiac arrest is the second leading cause of death in Minnesota at some 20 percent.
The mission of the Citizen CPR Foundation, which was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, is to “strengthen the chain of survival” by defining the actions that improve the chance of survival of victims of sudden cardiac arrest, starting with education for the lay bystander and continuing with interventions by emergency responders, hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units.
A previous version of the story incorrectly identified Tim Hoffman’s place of work as Carlson Toyota, when in fact he works at McCarthy Auto World. We apologize for the error.