About Heart Safe Communities
Cardiovascular events, including sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three Maine deaths (33%) and is the leading cause of death in Maine.1 In the U.S., about 335,000 people a year die of coronary heart disease (CHD) without being hospitalized or admitted to an emergency room. That is about half of all deaths from CHD and more than 930 Americans each day. Most of these are sudden deaths caused by cardiac arrest.2 That is why the Maine CDC/DHHS Cardiovascular Health Program, and the Maine Emergency Medical Services office have partnered to assist Maine cities and towns in improving the chances that anyone suffering a cardiovascular-related event will have the best possible chance for survival and recovery.
What is Maine HeartSafe Communities?
HeartSafe Communities is a recognition program based on the "Chain of Survival" which has been implemented in other states and countries to help improve outcomes associated with cardiovascular events. Its purpose is to recognize the excellent work being done by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) programs throughout Maine, and to provide further opportunities to enhance community partnerships, resources and services to improve cardiovascular health, and decrease deaths due to cardiovascular-related events, including sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke.
What Is the Criteria to be a HeartSafe Community?
To be designated a Maine HeartSafe Community, applicants must meet criteria that help improve cardiovascular health and decrease death and disability associated with cardiovascular events. The criteria are as follows:
- The EMS program, and/or their community partners must offer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training to their community members.
- The EMS program, and/or their community partners must offer cardiovascular-related education and/or awareness activities in their community.
- At least one emergency response designated vehicle must be equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
- Placement of at least one permanent AED with AED-trained personnel in public or private areas where many people are likely to congregate or be at higher risk for cardiac arrest (such as shopping malls, large employers, airports, etc.).
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support is dispatched to all priority medical emergencies, either as primary responders, or as ALS backup. ALS backup may occur on-scene, en-route, or at the hospital Emergency Department.
- The EMS program has an ongoing process to evaluate and improve the "Chain of Survival" in their community.
Why is it Important for a Community to Have This Designation?
Early recognition of the signs and symptoms associated with sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke, immediate access to emergency services, and prompt medical treatment are all crucial to prevent future events, save lives and reduce medical costs and disability. Maine HeartSafe Communities designation promotes enhancements to each of these important links, and recognizes a community’s dedication to improving its "Chain of Survival" through partnerships with the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program.
Which Communities Have Been Designated so Far?
For more information about the Maine HeartSafe program, please contact:
Tina Love, Cardiovascular Health Specialist with the Maine Cardiovascular Health Program 207-622-7566 x226.
1 Maine Office of Research, Data and Vital Statistics.
2 American Heart Association