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Making Indian Valley ‘HeartSafe’

Sam Blesse, the EMS supervisor for Care Flight Ground, has a definitive goal for Indian Valley in 2020: Become a HeartSafe certified community by summer.

As the ambulance service begins its tenure in Indian Valley (it began in November), it’s also looking to improve preventative medicine and survival rates for cardiac victims.

While the numbers of residents of Plumas County experiencing cardiac arrests of hospitals is relatively small — about four to 10 a year is the average Blesse states — that number could be significantly reduced. More than likely, a bystander trained in CPR will be helping to save the life of a family member, friend, or someone he or she knows.

Between 2006 and 2016 there was a zero percent survival rate for residents who had cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting in Quincy. The national survival rate is under 10 percent.

In 2017, after Quincy’s HeartSafe accreditation, five people discharged after cardiac arrest were able to resume the functional lives they had before.

What improves survival? Bystander CPR training — the increase in survival is a whopping 400 percent, according to Blesse. Blesse would love to see Indian Valley residents take the initiative to get trained; he’d like to see at least half the community CPR trained.

“CPR and AED training can help you be prepared to prolong the time in which medical professionals can help a victim,” according to the HeartSafeUSA website (AED is automated external defibrillator).

In January, Blesse starts on a year-long quest to get Indian Valley HeartSafe. The first CPR class is scheduled Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Greenville Town Hall. He plans on holding at least quarterly classes with a goal of once a month as interest allows. All classes will be free to people who want to learn the technique to save lives. For those wanting certification there will be a nominal fee for the certification cards.

The training also helps people feel more comfortable about assisting and explains how to get past any misplaced fears about liability or being intrusive.

Those interested in the CPR training should call the Indian Valley Community Services District office at 284-7224 to sign up.

Blesse is currently working on placement for the AEDs in Indian Valley at key locations as part of the HeartSafe certification process. They are at various locations around Quincy (which has certification) and Chester and a few spots at Lake Almanor.

Other steps forward in wellness can be seen during Wellness Wednesdays in Greenville with a booth in front of Evergreen Market to do EKG screening, blood pressure screening and other information about wellness.

Blesse also wants to see every sheriff’s patrol car carrying an AED kit. He also stresses that people shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 if they have chest pain or stroke symptoms.

“People should be calling 911 100 percent of the time. We don’t have a cardiologist up here and that can be a challenge,” said Blesse.

“People are sicker when they call up here,” he continued. Rural people tend to try and stick it out with pain, hold out before calling their health provider, and trying to drive themselves to the ER while in crisis.

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