Locals connect with 'Take Heart' organizationIt was a normal day refereeing a basketball game at Fridley High School in 2007 for Woodbury resident Dale Wakasugi when all of a sudden he hit the court floor. He suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
It was a normal day refereeing a basketball game at Fridley High School in 2007 for Woodbury resident Dale Wakasugi when all of a sudden he hit the court floor. He suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.
Wakasugi was fortunate enough to have a girl by the name of Lindsay Paradise in the stands. Paradise, had recently learned CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED.)
Even though several nurses and the school’s athletic director reacted as well, Paradise was the one who took control.
“(Paradise) responded to a really bad situation with poise, calmness and by applying what she learned school — which was really amazing,” Wakasugi said. “It was because of the quick response that I am here today.”
To this day, Wakasugi has remained close friends with the high school student who saved his life.
It is because of Wakasugi’s experience with sudden cardiac arrest that he has teamed with Take Heart Minnesota, an organization that is championing a sudden cardiac arrest initiative that hopes to spread awareness about how to respond to these situations.
“We’re hoping to raise awareness out there so that when people are in an emergency situation they do something because a lot of times people don’t want to get involved,” Wakasugi said.
The program manager for Take Heart Minnesota, as well as Take Heart America, is District 834 School Board member Natasha Fleischman. Fleischman is a sudden cardiac arrest survivor.
Currently, Take Heart Minnesota is working to bring ts initiative to Washington County.
Take heart in the cause
The Take Heart America organization, which started in 2004, looks at a systems-based approach to sudden cardiac arrest survival. This means that one life-saving technique, such as CPR, is not enough.
The Take Heart initiative goes to different communities to train on the various life saving techniques such as CPR, use of AED’s and proper training for bystanders, first responders, Emergency Medical Services and hospitals.
Take Heart America is also hoping to put AEDs throughout the community.
“We kept getting these different things that should make an impact, but they weren’t,” Fleischman said. “We needed to try something different.”
The first communities to use the Take Heart America initiative were St. Cloud and Anoka County. The initiative has now spread to South Dakota, Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio.
The goal of Take Heart America is to increase the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest victims. Currently the survival rate is 5 percent. In the communities that have implemented the initiative, the survival rate has increased to 19 percent.
“We need more people who are willing and able to help when a sudden cardiac arrest occurs because too often people aren’t fully aware of what they’re seeing,” Fleischman said. “We’re teaching the skills necessary to save a life.
Fleischman said too often when a sudden cardiac arrest occurs; bystanders and responders are unaware of what to do since it is often mistaken for a heart attack or a seizure.
Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack in that it is caused by electricity, not blockage.
“There’s a great misunderstanding of the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest,” Wakasugi said. “You can’t resuscitate someone on CPR alone, you have to have electricity.”
Take Heart Minnesota is kicking off a $300,000 fundraising initiative in order to spread the Take Heart Minnesota philosophy throughout the state, the first stop is Washington County.
“We’re trying to make Take Heart strong enough to implement the program in all corners of the state,” Fleischman said.
Fleischman is currently meeting with Washington County staff, such as fire fighters, the sheriff’s office and other medical personnel, to work on implementing the initiative and training throughout the community.
The program could be implemented as early as January.
Fleischman said Take Heart Minnesota will need around $5,000-$10,000 to implement in Washington County.
“What we’re really trying to do is raise awareness that we’re out there and we’re doing something different than anyone else,” Fleischman said. “All we’re doing is trying to simplify and take away the fear when sudden cardiac arrest occurs so someone can do something to save a life.”
For more information on, or to donate to, Take Heart Minnesota visit www.takeheartminnesota.org or contact Natasha Fleischman at nfleischman@TakeHeartMinnesota.org or (651) 403-5636.