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  • If someone in your community suffers a sudden cardiac arrest tomorrow, how likely are they to survive due to rapid access to life-saving treatment?
  • How many residents and public safety officials in your community can recognize the symptoms of cardiac arrest and know how to get help on the way, right away?
  • Who knows cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in your community and is prepared to administer it when necessary?
  • Where are automated external defibrillators (AEDs) located in your community and who is trained to use them appropriately?

The answers to these questions could determine whether your community qualifies as a Kentucky HeartSafe Community.

What is a Kentucky HeartSafe Community?

A HeartSafe Community is a community that has documented the Chain of Survival links to address cardiac emergencies for its citizens. These links include early access to emergency care, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced care. Community is defined as one of the officially designated 120 counties in Kentucky. Individual neighborhoods or sections within a county are not eligible.

Vital links in the Chain of Survival

  • Bystanders recognize the symptoms of cardiac arrest and call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • EMS dispatchers are equipped with basic intervention instructions for the caller and can get an advanced life support response vehicle to the scene quickly.
  • Bystanders are able to give adequate care based on training and instruction.
  • CPR is a simple, easily learned emergency procedure used when someone's breathing and heartbeat stop suddenly.
  • When properly administered, CPR buys precious minutes until a defibrillator is available.
  • CPR is most effective when it is started immediately after the victim's collapse.
  • In many cases CPR alone will not resuscitate the patient; however, it will help keep the victim's brain and heart supplied with blood and oxygen until medical help arrives.
  • Public knowledge and awareness must be raised so those trained in CPR will use it when it is needed in the community.
  • Defibrillation is the delivery of electric shock to restore the heart's normal rhythm.
  • Early defibrillation is a critical link in the chain of survival.
  • New automated external defibrillators (AED) are lightweight, sturdy and easy to use by anyone with training.
  • AEDs only should be used by individuals certified by defibrillation training programs that have medical oversight.


  • A response vehicle staffed by advanced life support personnel delivers advanced care.
  • Medications and oxygen therapy delivered by advanced life support personnel can be critical to the survival of cardiac arrest victims.

Who Manages the Kentucky HeartSafe Community Program?

The Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program, Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services, in collaboration with the American Heart Association encourage and promote community awareness of the potential for saving the lives of sudden cardiac arrest victims through the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and increased public access to defibrillation.

In order to increase this awareness, the Kentucky Department for Public Health has launched an initiative to designate Kentucky counties as HeartSafe Communities.

Why become a HeartSafe Community?

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the nation and in Kentucky. Over 1,800 Kentucky residents die each year due to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which occurs away from advanced medical assistance. In many cases, sudden cardiac arrest happens in the presence of a family member or friend.

How does a county apply for HeartSafe Community Designation?

The number of heartbeats (points) required to become a HeartSafe Community depends on the size of your community (county). The larger the community, the greater the need and therefore the greater the number of heartbeats required. Heartbeats are allocated for a variety of activities to strengthen the cardiac Chain of Survival (see application).

To become a HeartSafe Community a county official or representative must complete the application and mail or email it to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. The recognition is valid for a period of three years and is renewable through the application process.

Program Spotlights

Communities receiving recognition will be entitled to two HeartSafe Community road signs (one 12"x18" and one 24"x30") promoting the community as a HeartSafe Community, a letter of congratulations from the governor and a news release.