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Press Release
Thursday, April 5, 2001 Lisa Oh
American Heart Assn.
(213) 202-5041
Diane Thomas
APR, County of Orange
(714) 834-6203
Carole Neustadt
Mgr., HCA Public Information
(714) 834-3214
Operation Heartbeat program
Orange County Board of Supervisors Receives Lifesaving AED
Donation launches American Heart Association’s Operation Heartbeat program in Orange County

(SANTA ANA, April 9, 2001) – Forging a new partnership for a healthier Orange County, the Women’s Council of the American Heart Association will present Orange County Board of Supervisors Chair Cynthia P. Coad and First District Supervisor Chuck Smith with an automated external defibrillator (AED) at Santa Ana College at 11 A.M., Monday.

In tandem with the donation, the American Heart Association will launch its Operation Heartbeat program in Orange County. Operation Heartbeat encourages the public to become bystander rescuers to those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest. By learning to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), lives can be saved. Operation Heartbeat also advocates the placement of AEDs throughout the community to provide early access to defibrillation, which is vital to saving the lives of those in cardiac arrest. Each year, about 220,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association estimates that about 50,000 lives could be saved if bystanders recognized the signs of sudden cardiac arrest and took quick action to aid victims.

As Operation Heartbeat’s Orange County chairperson, Cindy McMahon, R.N., of Mission Hospital said, "The tragedy of sudden cardiac arrest is that it can strike anyone, even those for whom heart disease has not previously been diagnosed. And when cardiac arrest occurs, help must be obtained within ten minutes, or the person probably cannot be saved." McMahon runs the cardiac care program at Mission Hospital and oversees the Public Access to Defibrillation (PAD) trials currently underway in Orange County.

Supervisor Smith urges Orange County residents to recognize the critical need for early response. "It is only by mobilizing our community, coordinating our efforts and focusing our resources that we can ever hope to reduce the high sudden death rate and end this tragedy of modern healthcare," said Smith. Health Care Agency Director Juliette A. Poulson stressed that individuals must be trained and ready in the event an emergency occurs. "We all are willing to help someone in crisis and CPR training is the first step in being prepared to respond and help save a life," she said

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Operation Heartbeat/2

In making the donation of an AED to Orange County, the association’s Women’s Council wishes to raise awareness of public access to defibrillation and the importance of bystander rescue. "Because time is so critical to cardiac arrest victims, it’s vital that these devices are readily available and that bystanders feel comfortable using them and performing CPR," said Ginny Hale, one of the founding members of the American Heart Association’s Women’s Council.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart begins beating out of rhythm resulting in a lack of blood flow through the body. The only known treatment for cardiac arrest is defibrillation. An AED provides an electrical shock, which can restore the heart’s normal rhythm, but early care is critical. If a victim does not receive help within 10 minutes of the onset of cardiac arrest, it is unlikely that the individual will survive.

"We decided to make this presentation here on the campus of Santa Ana College to illustrate two important points," said Santa Ana College President Rita Cepeda. "Sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone at any age, and it’s the responsibility of everyone to learn to help victims."

American Heart Association volunteer Helena Jacobsen provided a poignant reminder of the need for widespread support of community programs making AEDs available by recounting her husband’s death less than three months ago due to sudden cardiac arrest. A fit man in his 30s, Dr. Raymond Jacobsen died while on a fishing trip with friends.

The American Heart Association spent about $337 million during fiscal year 1999-2000 on research support, public and professional education, and community programs. Nationwide, the organization has grown to include more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters who carry out their mission in communities across the country. The association is the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, which annually kills about 950,000 Americans.