West River Health Services (WRHS) is working in conjunction with both the North Dakota Department of Health and the American Heart Association to improve heart health education in Hettinger and the surrounding areas.
Chris Price, a representative from the ND Department of Health, recently attended Hettinger’s burgers and brats event to not only teach citizens about CPR, AEDs and cardiac health awareness, but also to designate Hettinger as one of twelve Cardiac Ready Communities in the entire state of North Dakota.
According to RN, MS Melinda Dalley, the goal of the Cardiac Ready Community is to empower the citizens to be able to handle health emergencies before EMS first responders arrive.
“If an emergency does arise, people can learn to recognize the symptoms and signs, call 911, start CPR, and use an AED,” said Dalley.
WRHS recently was awarded an American Heart Association grant to implement eight new AED devices or automatic external defibrillator devices across Hettinger.
Dalley said that WRHS is using the town of Hebron, ND as a framework for making different towns in the region Cardiac Ready Communities.
“One year in Hebron, they had a major heart attack happen on the baseball field,” Dalley explained. “A player was running a base and he fell over and had a major cardiac event. The EMS was there, and they were able to use an AED and save his life.”
The life-saving event inspired the Hebron community to look into becoming a Cardiac Ready Community and fundraise to provide available AEDs throughout the town.
“They were a really big inspiration to us,” said Dalley,” because, if we had something like that happen, we want to be ready as well.”
To meet its goal of a Cardiac Ready Community, the hospital has also offered occasional free blood pressure screenings at public events. Earlier in the year, WRHS offered hands only CPR training at Hettinger Public School to improve local CPR and AED education and awareness.
Dalley said that hands only training isn’t just for the school. Hands only CPR training is also available for interested families and businesses.
“We are trying to educate people on the signs and symptoms of cardiac events as well, which is a big part of this,” said Dalley. “You have to know what you’re looking for to be ready for when a cardiac event happens.”
So far, Dalley said that people have been really receptive to learning CPR and AED readiness.
“I think it’s normal to think, ‘this won’t happen to us,’ but we have had a lot of people say they are really interested in the training,” said Dalley. “Its important information and people are becoming a lot more open to learning those skills.”
Moving forward, Dalley said that WRHS will continue to offer free health screenings and host CPR and AED educational events across the region in places like Mott and Scranton.
Dalley said that WRHS supports the idea of communities across the region becoming Cardiac Ready Communities.
“So far West River Health Services isn’t spearheading an initiative anywhere else, but if there was interest from a city, WRHS would be willing to help.”