Health and Family Services Cabinet
Make Your Community Heart Safe

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, June 29, 2011  
Contact Information:  Beth Fisher or Jill Midkiff, (502) 564-6786, 3101 or 564-7042 ext. 3429  

New Program Involves Communities to Improve Response to Cardiac Arrest

The Kentucky Department for Public Health’s (DPH) Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is working with communities to improve the chances that anyone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest will have the best possible chance for survival. DPH is collaborating with the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) and American Heart Association on the project.

Approximately 4,600 Kentucky residents die each year due to cardiac arrest that occurs out of the hospital, away from advanced medical assistance. Typically, these events happen in the presence of a family member or friend.

The HeartSafe Community program focuses on strengthening links within the community that contribute to the likelihood of survival of cardiac arrest.

“By taking action, you can help save a life in your community,” said Dr. William Hacker, DPH commissioner.  “We are working directly with Kentucky communities to increase access to care, public awareness and the prevention of heart disease. By working together and developing a network of ‘heart safe’ communities across the state, we can improve the health and well-being of our fellow Kentuckians now – and years from now.”

To become a HeartSafe Community, applicants must review criteria for the program, complete an application, and mail or fax the application to DPH. The recognition is valid for a period of three years and is renewable through the application process.

“By becoming HeartSafe, communities are showing they are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the health and well-being of their citizens,” said Bonita Bobo, manager for the heart disease and stroke prevention program. “Not only does this project illustrate a commitment to health, but communities will reap the rewards of having healthier populations.”

“HeartSafe” communities provide a combination of factors viewed as preferable in the communities’ ability to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest. These factors include:

− Early access to emergency care in which bystanders recognize the symptoms of cardiac arrest and call 911 immediately.

− Early CPR, a simple, easily learned emergency procedure used when someone's breathing and heartbeat stop suddenly.

− Early defibrillation, the delivery of electric shock to restore the heart's normal rhythm.

− Early advanced care delivered by a response vehicle staffed by advanced life support personnel.

Communities must apply to be HeartSafe through the DPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program. Applications are available at or by calling (502) 564-7996.