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Kandiyohi County will seek Heart-Safe designation

WILLMAR -- Reflecting intensive countywide efforts to reduce sudden cardiac deaths, Kandiyohi County is applying for designation as a Heart-Safe County.

The application received formal support this week from the County Board of Commissioners.

The Heart-Safe designation recognizes communities that promote CPR education and the availability of automated external defibrillators for rapidly responding to sudden cardiac arrest. It is awarded through the American Heart Association and the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors Network.

In Kandiyohi County, a coalition has been working toward this goal for several years.

Coalition member Kim Lindahl, of the county's emergency management department, said the group has helped acquire and place more than 100 automated defibrillators to date.

Seventy of the devices are in community settings such as churches, workplaces and grocery stores.

There also are 32 AEDs in law enforcement squad cars, eight with county fire departments and one with the Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad.

In addition, the coalition has organized 16 CPR classes for ambulance personnel and 85 CPR courses at Ridgewater College, plus hosted 10 events for the public.

Sudden cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Without treatment, death usually occurs within minutes. Quick access by bystanders to an automated external defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death.

Lindahl said the Heart-Safe designation for Kandiyohi County will "recognize and continue to promote the placement of AEDs."

County Commissioner Jim Butterfield said a friend of his was saved a few years ago by prompt use of an AED.

"If it wouldn't have been for that, he wouldn't be with us today," he said.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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