The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Michelle Bigelbach
The Courier 

Valley County First in State to be Cardiac Ready


November 14, 2018

Michelle Bigelbach / The Courier

Key stakeholders in Valley County receiving the first ever Cardiac Ready Community designation are, pictured back row, left to right, Whitney Tatafu, Clay Berger and Annie Capdeville, front row, left to right, Karen Breigenzer, Lynn Miller, Janet Trethewey, Connie Wethern and Mary Kate Tihista.

After two and a half years, commitment and assistance from key stakeholders throughout the county, including EMS services, hospitals, community leaders and the public, funding from STAT Air, FMDH Foundation and Farm Credit Services, and an application which shows the County's commitment to saving lives, Valley County is the first county in the state to be designated as a "Cardiac Ready Community."

"It is so exciting to be the first in the state. It's amazing to show others that even though we are in 'The Middle of Nowhere,' we are ready in the event of a cardiac emergency," said Cardiac Ready Community (CRC) committee member and Valley County Health Department RN Lynn Miller.

A last step to approving the application involved members of the state Cardiac Ready Communities Program, including program manager Janet Trethewey, visiting Glasgow to review policies and procedures that have been put into place to handle a cardiac emergency. Factors that were reviewed by members of the Cardiac Ready Communities Program included the number of people who are CPR certified or knowledgeable in CPR, a community assessment of the number and location of available Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and if the AEDs are up-to-date with batteries and pads, having a plan in place to sustain the Cardiac Ready status, and having a community awareness campaign in place to continue education on prevention, recognition of signs and symptoms, and what to do when someone has a cardiac event.

With all of the requirements met, the final hurdle was to pass a mock emergency cardiac event to test the links in the chain of survival, which is composed of everyone involved in the cardiac emergency, including bystanders, EMS and dispatchers, knowing what their role is and executing the necessary steps to give a person a chance of surviving a cardiac event. The mock event occurred on Oct. 23, where Mark Wethern pretended to have a heart attack and go into cardiac arrest. Nancy Hamilton first recognizes that Wethern needs help based upon the signs and symptoms he was experiencing, and gets Taylor Hopstad for assistance. Hamilton calls 911, where dispatcher Kim Martens then gives Hopstad instructions to perform CPR and also alerts Hamilton to retrieve the nearby AED that is in the Courthouse. Once turned on, the AED self-instructed Hamilton to apply and use the device. The ambulance crew quickly arrived and took over care of the patient, transporting him to FMDH. "This mock drill allowed the members of the Cardiac Ready Communities Program to see that our dispatchers know how to provide instruction over the phone on how to administer CPR as well as direct them to the nearest AED. It also showed that the public knows what to do in the event of a cardiac emergency," said Miller.

"After going through the mock run, we all could see the chain of survival, and the effects it has on saving someone's life," said Miller. "We are all just so grateful for everyone's involvement in this process." The public's involvement is also a huge part in receiving this designation, as one requirement is to have 25 percent of the population be educated and knowledgeable in CPR. "We have approximately 2,000 people certified or knowledgable in CPR in the event of an emergency. Our next milestone is to get to 35 percent and then 50 percent of Valley County trained," said Miller.

Trethewey made her way back to Glasgow on Nov. 9, to provide Miller with an official certificate for the county. She also provided Miller, Connie Wethern, and Karen Breigenzer, who have been instrumental in putting on CPR classes and ongoing education, a small grizzly bear statue for their efforts. "By being cardiac ready, we snatch life from the jaws of death. Since there are no sharks in Montana, we voted and determined grizzly bears were more appropriate," said Trethewey.

Receiving this designation doesn't mean Miller and her team of volunteers on the CRC committee are done. "The goal is to sustain our cardiac-readiness. We will continue to meet quarterly to discuss further educating the public and other locations AEDs can be placed in the community. We will continue teaching CPR and encourage everyone to be knowledgeable and educated," said Miller. "We can all be cardiac-ready."


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