HeartSafe Communities is a program designed to promote survival from sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. HeartSafe Communities programs promote survival by enhancing the American Heart Association’s Chain of Survival, a series of five links that give victims of a medical emergency the best chance to survive, including:
Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system
Early CPR with an emphasis on chest compressions
Effective advanced life support
Integrated post-cardiac arrest care
Municipalities can become designated as HeartSafe Communities by establishing and meeting a set of criteria including availability of CPR instruction, public-access defibrillators and aggressive resuscitation protocols for first responders and area hospitals. For years, the Highland Park Mayor’s Wellness Campaign (MWC) pursued the goal of becoming a HeartSafe Community. The recent donation of a number of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) by involved residents completed the final steps to meet the criteria for a HeartSafe Community. On April 5, the Council of the Borough of Highland Park designated the municipality as the first HeartSafe Community in the state of New Jersey.
On May 2, Highland Park hosted a HeartSafe Designation Celebration and Cardiology Education Program. Speakers included Gayle Brill Mittler, Mayor, Borough of Highland Park; Josh Fine, Councilman and MWC Council Liaison; Clifton R. Lacy, MD, Cardiologist and Chair, Mayor’s Wellness Campaign; Justin Footerman, Member Mayor’s Wellness Campaign; Nancy Pinkin, Assemblywoman, NJ 18th Legislative District; Joseph Vitale, Senator, NJ 19th Legislative District; Betty J. Turock, PhD, Past President, American Library Association Professor and Dean Emerita Rutgers University School of Communication and Information and Clifton R. Lacy, MD; Marc Scheiner, MD; Ted Gutowski, MD and Howard Blau, MD, Cardiovascular Disease Specialists.
The borough is currently scheduling quarterly educational programs for the public on Heart Disease Awareness, Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, and also scheduling Heartsaver CPR/AED classes taught by the Highland Park First Aid Squad. The next class will be held Sunday, August 28, at 1:15 p.m. It will be a three-hour, hands-on American Heart Association course on how to perform CPR and how to use an AED, taught by Ari Lewitter, a member of the HP First Aid Squad.
Attendees of the HeartSafe Designation Celebration and Cardiology Educational Program praised Highland Park for being forward-thinking and proactive in becoming New Jersey’s first HeartSafe municipality, and they endorsed engaging more interested citizens and elected officials to export the HeartSafe Communities concept to other municipalities in Middlesex County and then across the state of New Jersey.
“This important achievement, Highland Park becoming New Jersey’s first HeartSafe municipality, is the result of hard work on the part of members of the Highland Park Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, the generous donations of automated external defibrillators by involved residents, and the Mayor and Borough Council’s commitment to community health, wellness and security,” said Dr. Clifton R. Lacy, Cardiologist and Chair of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign. “This effort will translate into saved lives and preserved functional status for visitors and residents of Highland Park. It is a model to emulate for other municipalities across the state of New Jersey.”