HOLLAND — Lisa Cardillo and John Shea know firsthand the importance of quick action in the event of cardiac arrest. Both are survivors who received CPR shortly after an event’s onset, greatly increasing their chances of survival.
Cardillo was 36 and on a trip from Detroit to West Michigan with her husband, with plans to visit Holland for the first time, when she suffered cardiac arrest. She noticed she was showing signs of a heart attack and her husband drove her to a hospital in Grand Rapids. She went into cardiac arrest just after walking into the emergency room.
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After receiving CPR and multiple shocks from an AED, Cardillo was in a coma for four days before eventually making a full recovery. She and her family have since moved to Holland.
Shea, a Holland native, suffered cardiac arrest a little over a year ago while volunteering for a local nonprofit. He was in a truck with former city councilman Jay Peters, who pulled Shea from the truck and performed CPR while awaiting the ambulance.
Now, Shea and Cardillo are part of a group looking to make sure others have a greater chance of surviving cardiac arrest by making Holland a HeartSafe Community.
There are 13 criteria that need to be met for Holland to become HeartSafe. Several of those have already been met, but a significant remaining hurdle is getting 15% of the city’s residents trained in hands-only CPR.
To reach that goal, 4,500 people will need to be trained. HeartSafe Holland is getting close, with over 3,600 currently trained.
“(This way), if you’re out and about around town, there’s a pretty good chance that somebody around you has been trained in how to react,” Cardillo said during a training at Park Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
“Honestly, as a survivor, for me it’s almost a dream come true to be part of a community where people care about others enough to take an hour out of their Wednesday night and come push on some mannequins so we can reach this goal. For me and my family, I think it’s everything.”
Shea said the first 10 minutes after the start of cardiac arrest are critical, and the quicker chest compressions are started, the better the chance of survival. He noted ambulance response times in Holland are around five minutes.
“What we’re teaching people is what to do in that (time frame) until the ambulance arrives,” Shea said. “It’s just press hard and fast and soon. The sooner you start, the better.”
The group teaches hands-only CPR, meaning compressions without pausing for breaths. Shea said that’s because research shows, in the first 10 minutes, there’s enough oxygen in the blood that it’s not worth losing compressions.
The group also has trainer AEDs, which allow participants to practice how to use the device if it’s ever needed. The device operates similar to a real AED, including voice instructions, just without delivering a shock.
Cardillo said the CPR and AED trainings will hopefully give citizens the confidence they need to act.
“If you see someone go down, if you have two hands, you can help save their life,” she said.
HeartSafe Holland’s next training session will be Saturday, Nov. 25, with demo and training stations from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Holland Civic Center.
Anyone will be able to receive free hands-only CPR and AED training. The group will also offer free coffee, cookies and hot chocolate for all participants.
HeartSafe Holland offers monthly trainings at Park Theatre. The next session is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20.
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Community partners involved in HeartSafe Holland include the city of Holland, the Holland Fire Department, Evergreen Commons, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, the Rotary Club of Holland, American Medical Response, Holland Hospital and the Jurries Family Foundation.
For more information, visit sites.google.com/view/heartsafe-holland/home.
— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at email@example.com.