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County seeking designation as Heart Safe Community

MORRIS -- County-wide efforts to improve sudden cardiac arrest survival rates could help Stevens County become designated as a Heart Safe Community by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Heart Safe Communities program focuses on making sure that residents know how to respond to cardiac emergencies, that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are available in the community, and that the chain of survival from first responders to the emergency room is strong, Josh Fischer, director of Stevens County Ambulance, told the Stevens County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday

The program is measured in “heartbeats” or points. A community of between 5,000 and 15,000 people needs to hear 400 heartbeats to qualify – Stevens County earned 930, Fischer said.

“That’s a real testament to the efforts many, many people in this county that are doing good things in terms of promoting heart health living and increasing survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest,” said Fischer.

The last piece of the application is an endorsement from the local unit of government, which the board approved on Tuesday.

Commissioner Jeanne Ennen, who is also a member of the Donnelly First Responders, said the partnerships between the ambulance service and local first responder groups is strong.

“We volunteer our time and we take our training and things, but [the ambulance service] are the ones that go other places and get the latest trends and techniques and bring them back to us so we can better serve our communities,” said Ennen.