On Oct. 17, 2011, the Canton Education Foundation awarded The Arc of the Farmington Valley (FAVARH) the 2011 Collinsville Savings Society Grant in the amount of $2,600. The grant made possible the purchase of additional CPR/AED (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillator) equipment that would be used for training of Canton community members and FAVARH’s 280 employees. It also provided for a free CPR/AED training that will be offered to community members, free of charge, which will be held Sept. 12 and 13, 2012 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the FAVARH’s Administration Building, 225 Commerce Drive in Canton.
FAVARH has always been a strong advocate of training in CPR/AED use; in fact, all of their direct care staff are required to be certified in both. What FAVARH did not know, was how much more important this mandatory training would become to all connected with FAVARH, in the months to come.
On January 11, 2012, Steve Morris (FAVARH’s Executive Director) went to his doctor for his annual physical. An advocate of health and fitness, he looked forward to ‘the good news’ about his health. True to form, everything looked great: vitals good, no medications, no signs of or family history of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer or anything else. His doctor called him “the healthiest person he knows.”
On Jan. 26, just two weeks after his annual physical exam, Steve dropped dead from cardiac arrest at his gym, Valley Fitness. His odds of resuscitation and survival at that point were 1 in 10.
Of the 10-percent of cardiac arrest victims that do survive, most are left with long term or permanent brain damage. Steve was part of the just 3-4% of the Out -of-Hospital cardiac arrest victims who survive to make a fast and full recovery. According to the American Red Cross 220,000 Americans died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in the past year, and it can strike anyone, at any age, at any time and many victims have no prior symptoms. When Sudden Cardiac Arrest strikes, the electrical system of the heart short circuits, causing the heart to quiver rather than pump in a normal rhythm, resulting in the abnormal heart rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation. It usually happens without any warning and the majority of people have no previous recognized symptoms of heart disease. For the best chance of survival from SCA, a defibrillator should be used within 5 minutes.
The “Chain of Survival” is what saved Steve’s life. The first link in that chain was immediate recognition of cardiac arrest (in Steve’s case the doctor that was working out next to him at the gym and the gym trainers) as well as the activation of emergency response system: 2nd link: early CPR; 3rd link: rapid defibrillation (for Steve this was implemented by medics within 4 minutes); and finally the 4th link: advanced life support and post cardiac care.
Steve was extremely fortunate, that all the links in the “Chain of Survival” were present. FAVARH, now even more committed to training in the use of CPR/AED use, gratefully thanks Canton Education Foundation, Collinsville Savings and Valley Fitness for being leaders in the community and recognizing the importance of safety for our community members. Valley Fitness also took the lead in fitness centers and immediately purchased an AED, which is easily available if it is ever needed in the future at their gym.
FAVARH has invited Valley Fitness staff to join in its upcoming FREE CPR training and they invite Canton Community members as well. It is on a first come first serve basis and there are 20 available training spots. The training sessions will be September 12 and 13th at FAVARH in Canton. Please call 860-693-6662 x116 for Ronelle Cipolla or x128 Jean Andersen to sign up for this training! Be a part of the “Chain of Survival.”