This blog was written by Mary Rasmussen, AHA Vice President, CPR & First Aid, Field Operations.
Although my current work is rewarding, there are times I miss my old jobs in the AHA affiliates. On any
given day I’d meet survivors and volunteers, and be knee-deep in everything from CPR to stroke to cardiovascular diseases.
It gave me a lasting appreciation for the health care professionals, first responders and volunteers who not only teach people how to save lives but regularly save lives themselves. AHA wouldn’t exist without these amazing people. We may coalesce the science but they’re the ones literally doing the work. Our mission wouldn’t be possible without them.
It sounds so simple, but a whole lot of effort goes into making it happen.
Take Mike Taylor, our 2016 Southern Tier (New York) Volunteer of the Year. His embrace of AHA’s CPR in Schools effort led to the New York State Board of Regents approving the addition of Hands-Only CPR training to the school curriculum. In one New York district, he and his team achieved 100% HOCPR compliance – 100% of students, 100% of teachers, faculty and staff, 100% of bus drivers, and 100% of the Board of Directors have successfully been trained. Amazing!
Then there are volunteers such as Beth Mancini (University of Texas at Arlington), Bryan Fischberg (Rutgers- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) and Peter Fromm (South Nassau Communities Hospital in New York). They logged countless miles and time away from families and career responsibilities to share their specialized knowledge at multiple ECC Regional Conferences.
Kay Eddleman of the Ochsner Health System Training Center in New Orleans has served many roles, but her most important one may be supervising the Training Center’s course quality, sharing everything from policies to forms to supportive encouragement without hesitation. Further, as project lead on the merged Louisiana and Mississippi ECC Committee, she made sure that all Heart Walks in the region this year were staffed with volunteers conducting HOCPR demonstrations.
Finally there is Captain Jeff Dropkin, New England Regional ECC Committee member and New Hampshire paramedic. As an AHA BLS, ACLS and PALS Instructor, he firmly believes that when the public is aware of and educated about when and how to perform CPR and use an AED, lives are saved. That conviction brought to life is directly responsible for the bystander response that saved a young boy’s life this year.
As we look back on 2016, I want to thank Mike, Beth, Brian, Peter, Kay, Jeff and all AHA volunteers and all Training Centers that serve our mission day after day. Consider their impact and multiplier effect. These are responders encouraging others to do the same with good, high-quality resuscitation.
Really, though, how can you say thank you enough to someone who saves a life? The closest I can get is to follow their lead and make sure I’m current on my CPR training so I’m prepared to act should the need arise.
We are here to save lives. It’s a common and simple goal, but a whole lot of energy goes into making it happen. And for those who make that effort, I am grateful.