Northeast District Department of Health Becomes the 9th HEARTSafe Workplace in Connecticut.
The Northeast District Department of Health (NDDH) in Brooklyn was recently recognized by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for attaining designation as a HEARTSafe Workplace. HEARTSafe is an initiative of the CT DPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program and the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) in collaboration with the American Heart Association. These partners, along with a growing list of designated towns and workplaces, are helping Connecticut's cities and towns improve the chances that anyone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest will have the best possible chance for survival.
Approximately 4,500 Connecticut residents die each year due to sudden cardiac arrest. Most of these deaths occur out of the hospital, away from advanced medical assistance. Friends, family, co-workers, and bystanders are more likely to witness the onset of a sudden cardiac event. Ordinary citizens trained in the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillators (CPR/AED) can initiate care and alert the EMS system.
CT DPH Regional EMS Coordinator Michael Rivers made the presentation to NDDH Board Chairperson Tammy Wakefield and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Derek May during a town leader orientation hosted by NDDH on December 3, 2015. Wakefield and May have championed the effort to get many northeast CT towns designated as HEARTSafe communities and accepted the HEARTSafe award certificate, signage, and a special letter of commendation from CT DPH Commissioner Jewel Mullen on behalf of NDDH.
“After organizing trainings for so many community members to help towns achieve HEARTSafe designation, it just made sense for us to take the next step to attain a workplace designation,” said May. “We had staff members ready and willing to be trained; an AED; health promotion and education about heart disease and related risk factors; and a written Emergency Action Plan.”
The effort to have NDDH towns achieve HEARTSafe designation gained momentum in 2008 when Wakefield was interning at the health department and coordinated trainings for the towns of Putnam and Killingly as part of her nursing degree practicum at Worcester State College. Wakefield, who would eventually become the Board Chair for the agency, finds her HEARTSafe efforts personally and professionally rewarding.
“Achieving HEARTSafe designation is a true team effort that helps to build stronger workplaces and communities,” remarked Wakefield. “It also shows state and community leaders and employers that residents and employees are supporting the effort to take care of themselves, their loved ones, colleagues, and neighbors. It’s a good day when you have helped to save someone’s life.”
According to the CT DPH website, a HEARTSafe Community is one that has documented the "Chain of Survival" links which increase the chances of survival for cardiac arrest victims. The four links are: early access to emergency care, early CPR, early defibrillation, and early advanced care. The HEARTSafe Workplace Program focuses on strengthening these links so that bystanders can take action and help save a life at their workplace.
NDDH Director of Health Sue Starkey also acknowledged the many community partners who have helped in the effort. “Our friends at KB Ambulance have trained hundreds of northeast CT residents,” Starkey said. “In addition, our HealthQuest coalition, the CT Office of Rural Health, Empty Spaces Project in Putnam, Woodstock Academy, and Follow the Fifty Models of Heart Health Campaign have all been valued supporters of our efforts to advance this important initiative.”
HEARTSafe Workplaces can include businesses, educational institutions, non-profit agencies, government agencies, faith based organizations, and others. For more information, visit the DPH HeartSafe Program or contact Derek May at NDDH at 860-774-7350, ext. 25.