These awards are truly lifesaving

Heart Safe designation is more than just a name

Photos of Plumas County residents receiving awards are a regular sight in this newspaper. They are typically for individual or group achievements that positively impact themselves or their communities. But this week some of the award winners do more than improve lives — they save them.

Quincy area first responders who saved lives at three separate cardiac arrests were honored last week with the Field Save Pin. These pins are only awarded to those who have helped save a cardiac arrest victim who goes on to walk out of a hospital in full recovery.

The numbers are impressive. In 2016 and 2017, cardiac arrest victims in the Quincy area were saved 50 and 43 percent of the time respectively. That compares to a 9 percent rate nationally. What’s the secret to the success?

Quincy is a Heart Safe Community and as such is focused on heart health – from how first responders treat those in cardiac arrest, to the installation of automatic defibrillators in public places, to improving the overall health of the residents. At the core, is the importance of CPR. “Never stop chest compressions,” said Sam Blesse, a paramedic and supervisor with CareFlight Ground, and the catalyst for the Heart Safe program locally.

CPR is the first step in saving cardiac arrest victims, but now it’s become increasingly accepted that it’s the most important step and one that should be continued even as other lifesaving measures are being taken. Blesse has trained local first responders to practice this when they go out on calls and the results are demonstrated in the lives saved and the comparative statistics.

But the message doesn’t stop with the first responders. One of the reasons Quincy has been designated Heart Safe is because CPR training extends to the general public as well. Regular CPR training sessions are made to anyone who wants to learn and the number who have taken advantage of the training are a critical part of the designation.

While Quincy and the surrounding areas from Cromberg to Meadow Valley are included in this designation, Blesse has begun working with other communities with the hope that it will spread countywide.

We already know that this is one of the most beautiful places in the country to live and now it is also one of the heart safest.