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Dickinson to become Cardiac Ready Community

By Kayla Henson for The Dickinson Press

CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson is partnering with multiple community organizations to earn Dickinson the designation of a North Dakota Cardiac Ready Community.

Cardiac Ready communities must satisfy specific criteria and prepare residents with the skills necessary to respond quickly to cardiac emergencies.

According to the program, "Research shows that communities increase survival and recovery rates for victims of heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac arrest when residents are aware of cardiac emergency signs and symptoms, activate the 911 system for these emergencies, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and have public access to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)."

Patricia Billings, RN at CHI, is one of the organizers of CHI's Cardiac Ready Committee, which is meant to create a plan of action toward achieving the designation for Dickinson and later, the rest of Stark County.

"There's a lot of different parts to this project," she said.

They include blood pressure screenings, providing CPR and AED training and cataloging the AEDs located throughout the community.

"We're going to be trying to organize some mass CPR teachings whether we go to different events, maybe a Big Sticks game, and set up a station so people can come, learn hands-only CPR, learn what the AED is, how to use it so they're not afraid," Billings said.

The committee plans to introduce the app Pulse Point, which pinpoints the location of AEDs for quick response in a cardiac emergency. They plan to fundraise to pay for another feature of the app, which alerts people via text message who are trained in CPR and registered with PulsePoint if they are within 300 yards of a cardiac emergency.

The group will start canvassing local businesses and organizations soon to get all AEDs in the community uploaded to the app. They hope to be able to distribute some AEDs as well.

If it meets the criteria, Dickinson will be among towns such as Jamestown and Hebron, which already have the distinction. The process has been started in multiple towns throughout the state, including Bismarck, Mandan and Killdeer.