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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Shelby County Named First HeartSafe Community

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, November 16, 2011  
Contact Information:  Beth Fisher or Jill Midkiff,(502) 564-6786, 3101 or 564-7042 ext. 3429  

New Program Involves Communities to Improve Response to Cardiac Arrest

 Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Janie Miller and representatives from the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) were on hand in Shelby County today to issue the state’s first HeartSafe Community Award, a designation for communities that have met a specific set of criteria to better respond to cardiac arrests.

Sec. Miller and DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Steve Davis were joined by Shelby County Emergency Medical Services Director Todd Early and County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenberger, who were instrumental in helping the community meet the standards set forth in the program.

“Heart disease is one of the most serious issues facing our state,” said Sec. Miller. “The HeartSafe program is carrying this mission of public health to the frontlines, helping our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and loved ones become educated and prepared to respond to an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. We are thrilled to see that the residents of Shelby County are taking the health of their community so seriously and have become Kentucky’s first HeartSafe Community.”

The HeartSafe program was launched over the summer by the DPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program as a way to help communities improve the chances that anyone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest will have the best possible chance for survival. DPH is collaborating on the project with the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) and the American Heart Association.

Approximately 4,600 Kentucky residents die each year due to cardiac arrest that occurs outside of the hospital and away from advanced medical assistance. Typically, these incidents 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.

“When the people of a community work together, as they have in Shelby County, they become a HeartSafe Community,” said Dr. Davis.  “We hope even more Kentucky communities will follow Shelby County’s lead to increase the number of citizens informed about heart disease and prepared to respond to heart attacks. By working together and developing a network of HeartSafe Communities across the state, more lives will be saved.”

To become a HeartSafe Community, applicants must review criteria for the program, complete an application, and mail or fax the application to DPH. The recognition is valid for a period of 3 years and is renewable through the application process.

“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 Shelby County for their commitment to health.”

“HeartSafe” communities provide a combination of factors viewed as preferable in the communities’ ability to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest. These factors include:

− Early access to emergency care, such as bystanders recognizing the symptoms of cardiac arrest and immediately contacting 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.

Communities must apply to be HeartSafe through the DPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program. Applications are available at or by calling 502-564-7996.








Last Updated 11/16/2011