Initiative Aims to Make Springfield Safer for Heart Attack Survival

By KOLR10 News , Lindsay Clein , Daniel Shedd |

Published 03/25 2014 03:13PM

Updated 03/25 2014 10:45PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  The Springfield Fire Department is aiming to make the city a safer place through a new initiative called "Springfield LifeSave."

In an announcement on Tuesday, City of Springfield officials said they've reached their goal of training and certifying 100 percent of the city’s employees in CPR and the use of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs).

All city employees have been CPR certified and trained in the use of automatic external defibrillators.  Now, the city wants others in the community to learn those life-saving skills.

Cardiac arrest is often sudden.  That's why the Springfield Fire Department is encouraging members of the community to get trained in CPR and using AEDs to be ready to jump in and save a life.

Springfield’s Leadership Team previously set a goal of having 50 percent of its 2,000 employees CPR certified by the end of 2012 and the remaining 50 percent trained during 2013.

"On February 7, 2012 I was sitting at my desk grading papers at College of the Ozarks, and the next thing I remember, I was waking up Thursday afternoon-- two days later-- wondering what happened to me," says 24 year old Walter Watts.

At just 21 years old, CPR helped save Walter Watts' life.

"I had collapsed of a sudden cardiac arrest," he says.

Classmates turned into heroes by performing CPR for around four minutes before an AED arrived.  Watts' story is proof that sudden cardiac arrest can happen anytime, anywhere, at any age.

"It just makes sense for our city to take care of the hearts of each other," says Watts.

You never know when someone might go into cardiac arrest, and simply knowing chest compressions could help save a life.

"My real goal is to make our community safer," says Springfield Fire Department Chief David Hall.

That's why the Springfield Fire Department wants to get at least 45,000 people trained in compression only or hands only CPR.

"It doesn't take a lot of time or energy," says Watts.  "But it can indefinitely save a life."

"Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death within Greene County," says Chief Hall.  "And if that's our number one risk we have-- this is something we as a community can do.  The life they may save is probably going to be someone they actually know."

The Fire Department also wants to double the number of AEDs within the community from around 250 to 500. 

Businesses and organizations are encouraged to take the 50/50 Challenge-- certifying 50 percent of the workforce or 50 employees, whichever number is less.

"We are seeing ones in other communities and locations where they've done this and they've seen survivablilty rates go up by over 50 percent," says Chief Hall.

With the help of this program, more stories will hopefully end like Watts's-- happy.

"It does happen," says Watts.  "And when it does, we need to make sure we are prepared."
Now, the City is asking other organizations and businesses to join the initiative.

With the help of numerous partners including American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Ozarks Technical Community College, Safety Council of the Ozarks, Mercy, CoxHealth and others, the goal of Springfield LifeSave is to train 45,000 people in compression-only CPR, double the number of AEDs in the community and have 100 businesses and organizations commit to the 50/50 Challenge.

Businesses and organizations that take the 50/50 Challenge commit to certifying 50 percent of the workforce or 50 employees, whichever is the smaller number.
Those who do will be designated as Springfield LifeSave organization and those who also purchase an AED will be designated as a Springfield LifeSave Plus organization.

For more information on how you can be certified, or to sign your organization up for the Springfield LifeSave 50/50 Challenge, visit SpringfieldLifeSave.Org, or contact Cara Erwin at 417-864-1500.

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