The numbers are proof: Stark County, Ohio, needs more potential lifesavers.
Nearly 22,000 Stark County residents have been diagnosed with heart disease. But even more are at risk.
Almost 80,000 people — 20% of the county population — use tobacco products. More than 121,000 residents are obese and over 98,000 have diagnosed high blood pressure.
These factors put residents at risk for cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating properly. About 90% of people who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital die.
Each year, more than 350,000 people in the U.S. have out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim's chance of survival.
That's where the potential lifesavers come into play. In 2019, the American Heart Association trained and certified 17,723 residents in Stark and adjacent Wayne County in CPR, plus provided Hands-Only CPR trainings for dozens of companies and community organizations.
In 2020, with a $20,000 grant from the Stark Community Foundation, the AHA hosted virtual "Train the Trainer" CPR sessions for five community partners: Access Health Stark County, LifeCare Family Health and Dental, First Christian Church, StarkFresh and The Martin Center.
The organizations received CPR Anywhere Kits to use in ongoing staff and community training, plus CPR Anytime adult and infant kits to distribute to people they serve. Nineteen people participated in virtual trainings.
"The virtual train-the-trainer program allowed our staff to have a basic competency to help when interacting with the public," said Tom Philips, executive director of StarkFresh, a nonprofit focused on reducing hunger and promoting good nutrition. "During these COVID-19 times, anything we can do to help alleviate some of the continuing stress on our health care system is a win for the entire community."
The AHA estimates the reach of the CPR kits provided through the grant to be at least 700 people. The grant also allowed the AHA to promote CPR awareness in Stark County through Facebook and Twitter, with a special educational series of posts during CPR Awareness Week in June.