McCracken County earns HeartSafe Community honor
McCracken County is the fifth Kentucky county named a HeartSafe Community for its quick response to treat cardiac arrests.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) will present the award during the annual stroke awareness luncheon at Baptist Health Paducah on Tuesday, May 14.
The Cardiovascular Coalition, a group of employees from Baptist Health and other providers, including Mercy EMS, were instrumental in McCracken County’s designation as a HeartSafe Community for response to cardiac arrests.
“The Emergency department and local EMS work together to provide a prompt response to cardiac arrest,” said coalition member Deborah Welsh, R.N, APRN, for Neurology Specialists at Baptist Health. “This award lets people know they are entering a HeartSafe community when they come to McCracken County.”
McCracken joins Ashland-Boyd County, Warren, Shelby and Jefferson counties on the growing list of areas working to be healthier and safer places to live.
“As a citizen of Paducah-McCracken County, it gives me great comfort to know that emergency responders and medical personnel are dedicated to using every second possible to save a life and save the heart muscle,” said Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler. “Heart disease is a major problem for Kentucky and for this nation, but thanks to the rapid response of those in the medical field, our citizens are receiving the best care possible.”
The HeartSafe Community program was launched in summer 2011 by the Kentucky Public Health Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program to help improve the chances that anyone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest will have the best possible chance for survival. Public Health collaborates with the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) and American Heart Association on the project.
“Heart disease affects the lives of many Kentuckians so it is imperative that we work together to make our state HeartSafe,” said DPH Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, M.D. “We must be prepared to respond to cardiac arrest. I commend the citizens of McCracken County for recognizing the seriousness of this public health issue and taking the necessary steps to become a HeartSafe Community.”
HeartSafe communities meet a combination of factors viewed as preferable in a community’s ability to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest, including:
- Early access to emergency care in which bystanders recognize the symptoms of cardiac arrest and immediately call 911.
- Early CPR, a simple, easily learned emergency procedure used when someone's breathing and heartbeat suddenly stop.
- Early defibrillation, the delivery of electric shock to restore the heart's normal rhythm.
- Early advanced care delivered by a response vehicle staffed by advanced life support personnel.
Approximately 4,600 Kentucky residents die each year due to cardiac arrest that occurs out of the hospital, away from advanced medical assistance. Typically, these events happen in the presence of a family member or friend.
The HeartSafe Community program focuses on strengthening links within the community that contribute to the likelihood of survival of cardiac arrest.
“By becoming HeartSafe, communities are showing they are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the health and well-being of their citizens,” said Bonita Bobo, manager for the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program. “We congratulate the citizens of McCracken County for their commitment to health.”
Communities must apply to be HeartSafe through the DPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program. Applications are available at http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/info/dpqi/cd/cardiovascular.htm or by calling 502.564.7996.