Last week, The American Heart Association named the City of Acworth a HEARTSafe Community, the first of its kind in the southeastern United States.
Acworth’s police department trained hundreds of residents on how to react to cardiac arrests through a number of free CPR and basic life-saving classes, said Tony Bailey, the captain of the city’s police department.
According to a city press release, “HEARTSafe Community is a public health initiative intended to help more people survive sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.”
By training people outside of the medical fields in how to respond to cardiac arrests, the American Heart Association hopes to increase the chances of survival for those that experience sudden heart problems, Bailey said.
The closest community with a HEARTSafe designation is in Kentucky, Bailey said, and Acworth public safety officials wanted to ensure safety for everyone a bit closer to home.
Between January and October 2013, Bailey said all of the city’s 160 full-time employees were trained on how to perform CPR.
Residents who worked outside of city hall were encouraged to attend free CPR classes, held throughout the year, and many were trained during a week-long training event in June 2013, he said.
Bailey personally trained more than 270 people, he said, which included city residents as well as employees.
The city partnered with a number of local organizations, including Metro Ambulance, Cobb County Fire Department and Marietta-based Chattahoochee Technical College to train over 1,000 Cobb residents in one week, Bailey said.
Mayor Tommy Allegood sat alongside city employees and residents at the first Saturday morning class that was offered last June, he said.
Allegood already knew basic CPR training, but was refreshed on how to use the automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs, portable hand-held machines that help emergency responders diagnose cardiac symptoms.
The city now owns a number AEDs, spaced strategically around the city, and hundreds of the city’s residents now know how to use them in case of emergency.
“It’s another first. We have always prided ourselves in being a leader in bringing different quality of life services to our community. ... I’m really excited about this,” Allegood said.
All of the public classes were offered for free, Bailey said, and ranged between two and eight hours long. Students were taught basic life-saving skills and how to conduct CPR on adults, infants and children.
Local nurses, doctors and EMTs took the courses as well, for a cost of about $20, and learned how to use different oxygen masks while on the job, Bailey said.
The city plans to continue the classes and week long training events into the coming years in order to maintain its HEARTSafe status. There will be free family and friend CPR classes offered in January 2014, and interested residents should keep their eyes on city’s website, www.acworth.org, where more information will be posted after the first of the year.