It was at a Vail Valley Partnership meeting on Valentine’s Day, 2007, when Sue Froeschle’s boss walked into her office and asked if anyone knew CPR. Fortunately, Sue did.
“I thought he was canvasing the staff to see if we needed training. But, when he said ‘we need you in the conference now,’ I knew it was serious,” recalls Froeschle. “Someone was on the phone with 911, however, I took one look at the woman on the floor, someone I had never met before, and saw that she was beginning to turn blue. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to do CPR, and I had to do it right away.“
It was Lynn Blake who had the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) who Froeschle had helped save that day. Blake was an otherwise healthy 27 year old when her heart stopped without warning. But, due to the quick intervention of bystanders—the one who dialed 911, Froeschle, who performed CPR and the firemen who used an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)—Blake became one of the very lucky eight percent to survive SCA.
Three years later, Blake formed Starting Hearts, whose mission is to save the lives of SCA victims by providing free CPR and AED education along with reducing the time in which emergency medical assistance is received. The nonprofit has three primary trademarked programs: Call.Push.Shock, a free community education program on how to respond to SCA; Nearest AED, a program focused on increasing AED access throughout Eagle County and Neighbor Saver, a 911 aided citizen dispatch/response system.
This year, in cooperation with Eagle County School District, Starting Hearts is conducting one of the most unique programs in the nation—teaching the entire population of the public school system. This includes 6,800 students from kindergarten through high school, as well as all teachers, administrators, coaches and bus drivers. The students are captivated by the 45-minute class, with video and hands-on practice of Call.Push.Shock, and each adult receives American Red Cross certification from Starting Hearts. The entire program is underwritten by the nonprofit and its donors. Already, 34 states require CPR training as a prerequisite for high school graduation.
The organization also places defibrillators in public areas to make these lifesaving devices available to all when needed. “With the generous support of the Vail Valley Medical Center (VVMC), Staring Hearts is placing an additional 50 defibrillators over a two-year period,” says Alan Himelfarb, executive director of Starting Hearts. “Today, Eagle County has one of the highest per capita placements of defibrillators in the nation and we’re working to make ours a model community.”
As well, the organization offers to all Eagle County residents, a free downloadable mobile app called PulsePoint that uses a GPS system to quickly locate the nearest defibrillator around the user. The app has been integrated with the Vail Public Safety Communications Center, which is responsible for managing the county’s 911 system. Through this app, citizen volunteers receive the same alerts as emergency medical personnel when a cardiac arrest victim in their area is in need.
Starting Hearts works closely with police, fire and sheriff departments, the VVMC and Eagle County Paramedic Services to make our community one of the safest in the nation to experience a cardiac arrest and survive.
As for Lynn Blake? She and her husband, Matt now have a two-year-old son, Thomas. His middle name is Froeschle.