Andover is seeking to become a Heart Safe community.
There are already automated external defibrillators in the Andover YMCA Community Center, Andover City Hall along with several other businesses and churches and in the squad cars for all Anoka County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Some community members know how to give CPR.
But Mayor Julie Trude believes the community could do more and hopes that emphasizing Allina’s Heart Safe community program will lead to more people being trained and AEDs becoming more common. There are no AEDs at any Andover parks, for example.
“Those first three minutes make a difference in survival,” Trude said. “It makes a difference to know what to do.”
Trude is spearheading an effort. She remembers a neighbor when she was living in Duluth who had a heart attack in an elevator and was saved by a bystander who knew CPR. Her husband has taught CPR to “hundreds of youth” in Boy Scouts and is a physician who understands how important it is for people nearby someone having cardiac arrest to do chest compressions and grab an AED before first responders arrive.
Andover resident Mike Hess knows all too well the difference quick action can make.
When exercising at Life Time Fitness in Coon Rapids the morning of March 27, 2013, Hess collapsed, then apparently revived before going into sudden cardiac arrest.
Coon Rapids police and fire personnel and Allina paramedics quickly responded and saved his life by using CPR and an AED.
Hess suffered no brain or heart damage and is doing “excellent” to this day.
“There’s no problems at all,” he said.
Coon Rapids Police Officer Bryan Platz was first on the scene when Hess initially collapsed and spearheaded Coon Rapids becoming Anoka County’s first Heart Safe community recognized by Allina Health. Since Coon Rapids received this distinction in October 2013, East Bethel and Ramsey have become Heart Safe communities.
Tim Hoffman, the Ramsey resident whose life was also saved in Coon Rapids, coordinated the Ramsey Heart Safe efforts with help from city staff and to date the Ramsey program has trained about 900 people.
Hoffman continues to lead training efforts and request donations for AEDs to be placed in more community locations. Recently, the Ramsey Lions Club donated five AEDs. Four will be placed in Ramsey restaurants and one will go to a Nowthen restaurant.
Hoffman crosses borders to train more people. He said Anoka is in the early stages of trying to get Heart Safe community designation. The morning of Feb. 5, he and a team of other volunteers including two East Bethel firefighters trained all middle school students at St. Stephen’s Catholic School in Anoka. Eighth-grader Madeline Hoppenrath had written a letter to the school principal asking for this to happen. Her father, Bill Hoppenrath, is a survivor thanks to someone being trained, according to Hoffman.
“We’re all one big family,” Hoffman said. “If Andover needs my equipment or help all they need to do is call.”
Hoffman also commented that Andover has “a good champion” to promote this in Hess.
While it was news to him that Andover was looking to start a Heart Safe program, Hess said he would be willing to volunteer when his schedule allows it. Having his home community became involved in the Heart Safe program would mean a lot to him.
“Standing by is not an option,” he said.
Mike and his wife Denise Hess will be helping the Play for Patrick foundation when it comes to Coon Rapids High School March 5 for free cardiac screenings for children between the ages of 13 and 18. This foundation honors Patrick Schoonover, a hockey player for Eastview High School who collapsed and died moments after scoring a goal in a hockey tournament in Brainerd Nov. 14, 2014. It was later determined that he had numerous heart defects.
Andover’s efforts are in the early stages, according to Trude. She knows the Andover Fire Department will offer as much support as possible, but much of the legwork will need to be done by volunteers.
One Andover resident she enlisted the help of is Blair Buccicone, an assistant attorney in the Anoka County Attorney’s Office. Trude also is speaking with Andover High School Principal Becky Brodeur and said she also plans to get the churches and youth athletic associations involved in Heart Safe community efforts.
Buccicone grew up in Rochester and knows a dietician that has saved people by performing CPR. This is just one of many stories he has heard.
“There’s no value you can place on saving a life. It’s proven to have saved lives,” he said.
Buccicone said it is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” Andover will join Coon Rapids, East Bethel and Ramsey as Heart Safe communities.
“There’s too much momentum and energy behind it for it to fail,” he said.