Dana Vollmer Has the Heart of a Champion

On Sunday, July 29, 2012, Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer won the gold medal and set a world record in the 100-meter butterfly.

Her victory goes beyond winning gold – she also defeated a heart condition that could have stopped her heart and her swimming career. When Dana Vollmer was 15 years old she began having dizzy spells. As a precaution, her parents took her to a cardiologist at Cook Children’s Hospital in Dallas where they learned that she had an irregular heart rhythm. They also discovered that she had Long QT syndrome, a cardiac electrical disorder that can cause potentially fatal arrhythmia.  Dana continued to practice and compete with an external defibrillator available nearby.

After her freshman year of college she underwent a series of tests and they detected no signs of long QT syndrome. Doctors don’t know exactly why, but she may have outgrown it.

In addition to being a champion swimmer, Dana Vollmer is also a proud ambassador for the American Heart Association.

Please join us in congratulating Dana for her Olympic gold!

North Carolina Legislation Makes CPR a Graduation Requirement

I am thrilled to announce that CPR training is now a graduation requirement in the state of North Carolina!  House Bill 837, which will take effect in the 2014-15 school year, was signed yesterday by Governor Beverly Perdue (see photo to the right), who said, “I can think of nothing that we’ve done this year that has any more profound and long-lasting effects on the health and wellness and survivability in North Carolina from any kind of heart attack or incident.”


While North Carolina has had CPR instruction as part of the standard course of study since 1997, training was not tracked in any way. With the new law in place, it will be. The law also establishes a Chain of Survival Task Force tasked with determining how NC can place an AED in all state-owned buildings. Finally, it directs the State Board of Education to work with the AHA and other national organizations to develop a plan for implementation of CPR training.


The bill signing marks the first victory for the CPR in Schools policy goal this fiscal year and the fourth this calendar year (following TN, MN and VT). Please join me in congratulating the Mid Atlantic Affiliate volunteers and staff, and tenacious bill sponsor Representative Becky Carney, for their tireless efforts in making this happen. We are one step closer to ensuring that every American receives lifesaving CPR training!

AHA Launches New Hands-Only CPR Campaign in NYC!

Today, I’m excited to be blogging you live from the official kick-off of the AHA’s new Hands-Only™ CPR Campaign at The Grace Building in New York City. Joining me for the celebration are several members of AHA leadership including President Gordon Tomaselli, CEO Nancy Brown, National Chairman William Roach, Chief Mission Officer Meighan Girgus and EVP of Communications Matt Bannister, our campaign sponsor, WellPoint Foundation, Laerdal Medical, experts in CPR training and science, survivors of sudden cardiac arrest and our new campaign spokesperson, actress and comedian Jennifer Coolidge!

Our new campaign uses a fun theme of the Bee Gees’ disco classic “Stayin’ Alive” (the song that’s been shown to help people remember the correct rate of CPR compressions) and focuses on giving bystanders the confidence to act if they witness a sudden cardiac arrest. At today’s event, we’ll launch our new public service announcement starring Ms. Coolidge and release our new Hands-Only CPR instructional video – both available at our newly-designed Hands-Only CPR website for you to view and download.

In addition, today’s event is our first stop on the mobile Hands-Only CPR tour! Our state-of-the-art mobile CPR training unit and certified trainers will be present to teach New Yorkers the simple steps to save a life. From here, the Hands-Only CPR mobile training unit will travel to host trainings in eight cities this summer. Over the next three years, the unit will be traveling across the county to build awareness and train people in lifesaving CPR skills.

With this campaign, we hope to train several hundred thousand people in Hands-Only CPR and also encourage people to learn conventional CPR. It’s easier than ever to save a life and I’m confident this campaign will raise significant awareness of how easy it can be!

Join the discussion on Hands-Only CPR – comment on my blog post, and check out what people are saying on our AHA CPR & First Aid Facebook and Twitter sites.

Also, please check back later this week for photos from today’s NYC kick-off!

AHA/Laerdal Alliance Update

The AHA and Laerdal have been working together for almost 40 years in support of ECC science and education. During the past 15 years, we’ve collaborated on a number of mutual projects, such as the development of CPR Anytime and the HeartCode line of eSimulation products. To build on this collaboration, in July 2005, we entered into a Strategic Alliance.

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