Houston Program Aims to Close Gaps in Bystander Response to Cardiac Arrest

Community CPR training sponsored by Tomball performed at a local school.

The data on survival rates after cardiac arrest – nearly 90% do not make it – shows that we’re not doing enough to protect our loved ones, and for American Heart Association, the Tomball Regional Health Foundation (TRHF), and Association volunteer Ron Mullins, that isn’t good enough.

In 2015, TRHF sponsored the equipment and training so that high school students in five independent Texas school districts could be trained in CPR. Expanding on that program in 2017, TRHF awarded a grant to the Association to teach CPR to thousands of residents using the Association’s CPR Anytime kit.

In collaboration with local community partners such as schools, churches, fire departments and local health systems, the program will train

A generation of new lifesavers!

3,000 people between June 2017 and May 2018 in the greater Tomball, Magnolia and Waller area.  And, since the CPR Anytime kit is a multi-use product, the program projects that the participants themselves will train an additional 4,500 people in CPR for a total of 7,500 new lifesavers.

Many of the service and training areas are populated with a mix of low income and multi-cultural communities that suffer high rates of cardiovascular disease identified there. Recent research by Association volunteer Monique Starks, MD, found that survival after cardiac arrest was worse in predominantly black neighborhoods than white neighborhoods, and that bystanders in black neighborhoods were less likely to start CPR. Latinos specifically are 30 percent less likely to have bystander CPR performed on them in a cardiac emergency, making them less likely to survive.

TRHF theorized that these neighborhoods would benefit from having training in what to do in the event of a cardiac arrest. It also wanted to advance the Foundation’s mission: “To promote wellness and improve health status for all residents in our communities through programs that enhance access to health care, preventative care and health education.”

Vicki Clark, Foundation Board Chair, states: “If we can save ONE life, it is well worth the investment in this program, and we are grateful for the opportunity to sponsor this project in our community in partnership with the American Heart Association.”

AHA volunteer Ron Mullins instructs students as they practice CPR.

Mullins, who Association leadership calls “a great volunteer,” has conducted the bulk of the training.  “Our goal is to bring awareness to people – especially young people – where they ‘eat, play and pray,’” says Mullins. “High school students in Texas already receive CPR training at school, and the Tomball grant allows us to not only train adults but to reinforce what kids have learned in school.

“Refresher training for students is important so that they become very comfortable and confident in these skills,” Mullins continues. “This is critical because young people are the most likely to act in a crisis, as well as to take refresher courses later on and maintain CPR as a lifelong skill.”

For details on how to participate as an individual or to set up a training for a business or community organization, please contact SWACPR@heart.org.