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Press Release

Contra Costa Communities Earn County's First "HeartSafe Community" Designation

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Several Contra Costa communities will be recognized this month as the county's first HeartSafe Communities, meaning residents will have a greater chance of survival after a cardiac emergency.

This month, Contra Costa Health Services will designate El Cerrito and the San Ramon Valley communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, Danville, Diablo, San Ramon, the southern area of Morgan Territory and the Tassajara Valley as the county's first HeartSafe Communities. The designation recognizes that the communities have empowered residents with the skills and knowledge to respond to cardiac emergencies, said Prehospital Care Coordinator Pam Dodson with Contra Costa Health Services' Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division. Dodson gave a presentation about the HeartSafe Community campaign on Tuesday to the county Board of Supervisors, which declared February as American Heart Month.

The HeartSafe Community campaign partners with the American Heart Association to determine a community's ability to provide early access to emergency care, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced care. Dodson said a community's ability to perform these tasks is measured by community awareness, the number of people trained in CPR and the number of automated external defibrillators spread throughout the community.

"Efforts to become HeartSafe don't end with this designation," she said. "The success of a HeartSafe Community is in the seeking. The public becomes part of the process and continually becomes more educated and more prepared to respond to cardiac emergencies. Someone who has the symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke knows to call 9-1-1 right away. If someone collapses, people know to take action: calling 9-1-1, sending someone for an AED and beginning CPR."

CCHS EMS Director Art Lathrop said HeartSafe Communities play an important role in the county's Emergency Medical Services system. "Ideally, a person would receive care within minutes of sudden cardiac arrest, usually before first responders arrive," he said.

In 2010, the EMS system responded to more than 500 individuals who suffered sudden cardiac arrest, according to Dodson.

"People have a greater chance to survive a cardiac emergency if community members are a part of the rescue effort," Dodson said. "We are very proud of El Cerrito and the San Ramon Valley, and we strongly encourage other communities to follow in their footsteps."

Find out more about HeartSafe Communities at

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Press Contact
  • Pam Dodson
  • 925-313-9547