Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CPR in Schools Bill Signing - Looking Back

Hi! It's Carolyn Torella, Regional Communications Director for the American Heart Association sharing my look back at the CPR in Schools bill.

When I started working at the American Heart Association in May of 2008, my first day on the job was at something called, "Lobby Day" in Albany.

I was totally overwhelmed at the prospect of working full-time after being home for years with my children as a stay-at-home mom. That first day was a whirlwind of legislative visits with Assembly and Senate representatives, a brief tour of the Capitol and sprinting from photo opp to photo opp--I was handy with a camera! I definitely worked up a sweat and learned what they meant by "wear comfortable shoes."

I met so many enthusiastic and passionate volunteers that day, and I continue to meet more every year. They all had that "can-do" attitude. Many had survived cardiac arrest. Some had lost loved ones to it. All were so inspirational. I couldn't have picked a better day to start at the AHA.

Here it is, six years later in 2014, and that bill that we literally gave our sweat, and in some cases, tears for, is finally signed. Although it's not a done deal yet, we still need the Commissioner of Education and Board of Regents to sign off, I think it's a great time to look back at all the people who helped get the bill to the Governor's desk.

The bill signing is all about a small group of people in New York State coming together to help the lives of all New Yorkers. It's about a dedicated group of survivors and families of those lost to cardiac arrest rallying for the good of everyone. It's really a case study in how the power of grassroots activism can help save lives. It's about all those phone calls, emails, visits and Tweets that said, "Please pass the CPR in Schools bill!"

I salute all the You're the Cure advocates from the Hudson Valley and around the state for working so hard for so many years to get this bill to this point! We're so close!!! Great work, everyone!

Check out photos from over the years of some of the great volunteers who helped get this bill passed!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the CPR in Schools bill - One Step Closer!

Great news from Albany today--Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the #CPRinSchools bill!

The signed bill now goes to the state Commissioner of Education, who has 180 days to recommend to the Board of Regents that they include CPR and AED instruction in the curriculum. The Regents have 60 days to act after the commissioner’s report. So far, 19 states across the country have already passed laws requiring every high school student to be CPR-trained before graduation.

AHA volunteers have traveled to Albany to meet with legislators; they held a CPR Rally at the Capitol; they have written letters to the editor; they have given countless media interviews; they have tweeted and they have phoned.

Today, after learning that Gov. Cuomo had signed the CPR in Schools bill, six women who lost children to sudden cardiac arrest are optimistic that the New York will join the 19 other states that ensure students learn CPR before graduation.

“My son was 16 when he died of an enlarged heart,” said Audrey Linguanti of Spring Valley. “Since then I have been working hard to pass the CPR in schools bill, in his memory. Governor Cuomo’s signature on this bill is a good step toward saving so many lives – like Vincent wanted to when he joined the local fire department. Thank you, Governor.”

“My daughter Emily was 14 when she took her last breath in my arms," said Annette Adamczak of Akron, who, on Sunday, orchestrated a CPR Flash Mob on the fields near where her daughter collapsed. "Governor Cuomo has used his heart in signing this bill, and done his part to make sure all New York students are trained in CPR. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would give my hands the knowledge that could have saved a life - my child's life."

"Five years later I still wonder why? With so many people there that that night why isn't Dominic here?” said Melinda Murray of Queens, whose son Dominic died of sudden cardiac arrest when he was 17. “The answer is clear. No one knew what to do right away. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for ensuring our next generation knows what to do in the precious minutes it takes to save a life.”

“My son Louis never had a chance at survival,” said Karen Acompora of Northport, whose son was 14 when he died of sudden cardiac arrest.

Acompora was instrumental in passing Louis’ Law, which requires that an AED be on-site in public places where large amounts of people gather. Since that law went into effect in 2002, more than 80 lives have been saved. “I applaud Gov. Cuomo for signing the CPR in Schools bill, and bringing the state of New York closer to creating a generation of life savers,” Acompora said. “He honors Louis and the other children whose lives were cut short by signing this bill. We are almost there. Now it is up to the State Education Department to do the right thing.”

“The pain we have over losing our children never ends,” said Suzy McCarthy of Evans, whose daughter Madison was 5 when sudden cardiac arrest stole her life. “Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for realizing that time is critical – let’s get the students of New York trained so that we can save, not lose, lives.”

“We will miss Robbie all of our lives,” said Jill Levine of Merrick, whose son was 9 when he died. “It has taken us years to get to this point. Thank you to Gov. Cuomo for signing the CPR in Schools bill. I hope the State Education Department quickly finalizes recommendations to ensure students learn CPR. It is within their power to prevent more senseless deaths in New York.”

“Governor Cuomo’s signature on this bill has the potential to make New York a safer state for all,” said Dan Moran, chair of the New York State Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association.

“Most of the 424,000 sudden cardiac arrest deaths that happen each year happen in the home. Having CPR performed doubles or triples the chances of survival for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. All of us applaud Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill, and hope that the Commissioner of Education and the Board of Regents take the steps that will empower our students by teaching them Hands-Only CPR.” 

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Governor for recognizing the life-saving potential of this legislation,” said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who authored and sponsored the bill (A9298).

“This legislation will help ensure more New Yorkers are prepared to perform CPR and by equipping our kids with this knowledge, we can prevent unnecessary deaths.” Weisenberg was also the sponsor of Louis’ Law. “Most people are surprised to learn CPR isn’t taught to our kids before they graduate,” said state Sen. Mark Grisanti, sponsor of the bill in the Senate (S7096).

“Teaching CPR is just common sense. Schools prepare students with essential life skills, and CPR skills will make our communities safer, year after year. I’m proud to have sponsored the CPR in Schools bill. Nineteen other states have a CPR in Schools law. Let’s get New York in the top 20.” “One training session, one class period could mean the difference in a life,” said Adamczak. “One life may not seem like much, but to that person’s family, it is the world.”

 Why Teach CPR in Schools?

· Over 400,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States.
· Sadly, about 90 percent of victims die most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR.
· Three to Five minutes - this is the difference between life and death.
· A victim’s best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive.
· Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates.
· Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our community with lifesavers.

About 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen at home. The life saved will likely be a loved one. Hands-only CPR makes it easy. 

Now CPR can be taught in less than one class period. About the American Heart Association The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases.

Friday, October 10, 2014

CPR in Schools Bill Is Delivered to Gov. Cuomo

Things are moving along in Albany for the CPR in Schools Bill! The CPR in Schools Bill has been delivered to Governor Cuomo. Gov. Cuomo has 10 days to sign the bill after its delivery to him. The bill then goes to the state Commissioner of Education, who has 180 days to recommend to the state Board of Regents that Hands-Only CPR be included in the curriculum.

YOU can help us pass this bill! Please click HERE to send a final message to the Governor today! 

Karen Acompora of Northport has been an advocate for the CPR in Schools bill for years. News that the bill (S7096) was delivered today to Gov. Andrew Cuomo has increased her resolve to see all high school students learn Hands-Only CPR.

“This is the farthest this bill has ever gotten, and I look forward to Gov. Cuomo signing it,” Acompora said. “My son Louis died at the age of 14 of sudden cardiac arrest – it was a senseless and tragic loss that might have been prevented.  Many of us worked hard to get AEDs in public places, and implementation of a CPR in Schools law will be the second part of a lifesaving equation. Knowing that every high school student knows CPR won’t bring Louis back, but it will be a comfort to know that other deaths will be prevented.”

AHA Volunteers held a CPR rally in Albany in June

“There are cheers and tears among a strong group of advocates for this bill that is now in Gov. Cuomo’s hands,” said Dan Moran, chair of the American Heart Association’s New York State Advocacy Committee. “Those advocates include people like Karen, who lost children to sudden cardiac arrest, and survivors, who continue to live full and healthy lives because someone started CPR on them. We know that Gov. Cuomo has the good of all New Yorkers in mind, and this bill will save lives. We look forward to seeing his signature on the bill.”

Out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest strikes 424,000 people each year, and only 11 percent survive. Having CPR performed doubles or triples the chances of a victim’s survival. Hands-Only CPR can be taught in one or two class periods at little or no cost to a school district.

State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and state Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach, sponsored the CPR in Schools bill (S7096/A9298). 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

World Stroke Day is October 29th - Learn the F.A.S.T. Signs of Stroke

World Stroke Day is October 29th

About the Campaign

October 29th is World Stroke Day, which was established by the World Stroke Organization in 2006 to help spread public awareness of the world's high stroke risk and stroke prevalence.

What is Stroke?
Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens
, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.

What are the types of stroke? 
Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (called an ischemic stroke) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (called a hemorrhagic stroke). A TIA(transient ischemic attack), or "mini stroke", is caused by a temporary clot.
What are the effects of stroke?
The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions.  If a stroke occurs and blood flow can't reach the region that controls a particular body function, that part of the body won't work as it should.

Join the Fight Against Stroke

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association supports the annual campaign by educating Americans about the stroke warning signs and the importance of taking action immediately.

While stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S., many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern.  We have made a lot of progress, but we still have a ways to go and need your help!

If you learn and share the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs with your friends and family, you may save a life, possibly yours. Why? Because spotting the warning signs and calling 9-1-1 immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life.

So we need you to take action on World Stroke Day and beyond.

Take 1 minute to join the pledge to end stroke to see how you can make a difference in your community. Together, we can end stroke.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs and symptoms of stroke. Learn more about F.A.S.T

F.A.S.T. – Other Symptoms You Should Know

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If someone shows any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services.

You can also download the F.A.S.T. app from your Android and iPhone online markets.

FACTS About Stroke:

  • About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year. That's about 1 of every 18 deaths. It's the No. 4 cause of death.
  • On average, every 4 minutes someone dies of stroke.
  • About 40 percent of stroke deaths occur in males, and 60 percent in females.
  • The 2006 stroke death rates per 100,000 population for specific groups were 41.7 for white males, 41.1 for white females, 67.7 for black males and 57.0 for black females.
  • Americans will pay about $73.7 billion in 2010 for stroke-related medical costs and disability.

Get free resources for World Stroke Day on October 29th and share the infographic below. Download it at:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Walk for Your Heart at the Westchester Heart Walk October 5th at Kensico Dam

The Westchester American Heart Association (AHA) invites the local community to the 2014 Heart Walk event, set for October 5th at Kensico Dam in Valhalla. Teams and individual walkers are encouraged to register online at  

The Heart Walk promotes physical activity to prevent heart disease and stroke, the number one and four killers. It is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. The non-competitive walk raises funds to support heart disease and stroke research, as well as educational and advocacy programs in the Westchester area. 

Heart disease affects children and adults, and men and women of all ethnicities. Three local heart disease survivors will be honored at the event. 

Bonnie Rosenbaum of Bronxville was first diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse at twelve years old. Her doctor said that she might need heart surgery around age 50 but at age 31, her damaged valve required surgery. She was featured in the AHA's Stories from the Heart gallery sponsored by White Plains Hospital.

Twelve-year old Delaney Koch of Yorktown Heights was born with an aortic aneurysm, a congenital heart defect, which she was medicated for her entire life. Earlier this year, the aneurysm was removed during the long operation but now her heart valve is leaking. She will need a valve replacement surgery.

Westchester County Parks Program Administrator, Kevin Donnelly, 56, trains lifeguards in CPR and knew when he had chest pressure that felt like indigestion, that something could be wrong with his heart. He chewed an aspirin and then took an ambulance ride to the hospital just in time--he suffered a cardiac arrest while there, was resuscitated and then received a stent to open his clogged heart artery.

Funds raised by Heart Walk participants and sponsors support heart and stroke research and awareness programs. American Heart Association-funded research has yielded important discoveries such as the heart-lung machine, CPR, life-extending drugs, pacemakers, bypass surgery and surgical techniques to repair heart defects. The AHA currently provides $1.43 million to five researchers at New York Medical College.

Hands-Only CPR training will be provided at the event, sponsored by Westchester Medical Center.

The Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway and presented locally by Cause Sponsor, Stamford Hospital and Hands-Only CPR Sponsor, Westchester Medical Center. Additional sponsors include Philips, Walgreens, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, Merit Direct, WestMed, and media sponsors, Examiner News, The Peak Radio and News 12 Westchester.

For more information about the Heart Walk, email or call 914-640-3274. To sign up or make a donation, visit .

Monday, September 22, 2014

American Heart Association Honors Two Sons Who Saved Their Father's Life with CPR

The American Heart Association and Bon Secours Charity Health System honored two Garnerville brothers, Connor Meigh, 11, and Sean, 19, for their efforts in saving the life of their father, Michael, who collapsed at home on June 16th from sudden cardiac arrest. The two were honored at the hospital’s event with Cardinal Dolan.

The American Heart Association presented Heartsaver Hero Awards to the two hometown heroes for their quick action in the saving of a life with CPR.

On June 16th, the day after Father’s Day, Amtrak police sergeant, Michael Meigh, was doing yardwork when he began to feel ill. Even after moving into the air conditioning, he was sweating profusely, which he thought might be heatstroke.

His older son, Sean, sensed something was wrong with their father. He asked his younger brother Connor to keep an eye on their father while he took a shower. During that time, their father collapsed in the living room from sudden cardiac arrest. Connor quickly got his brother, called 9-1-1 and got emergency personnel to his father when they arrived.

Meanwhile, Sean Meigh, a CPR-trained lifeguard, began CPR on his father to keep his heart pumping until EMS arrived on scene.

“Their father survived because of Connor’s quick action and Sean’s knowledge of CPR,” said Kevin Foord, past American Heart Association Board Chair. Foord’s life, too, was saved by his own teenage daughter, a CPR-trained lifeguard, when he collapsed from cardiac arrest at home in 2001. Since then, he was able to walk his daughter down the aisle in her wedding and spend time with his grandchildren.

“My daughter’s knowledge of CPR is why I am here today. CPR is why Michael Meigh is here today. We want more stories like this,” he said, “All Hudson Valley residents can easily become tomorrow’s heroes by learning Hands-Only CPR.”

Cardinal Dolan told Sean at the event that he wished Sean was around for his own father, who died of a heart attack in his 50's.

According to the AHA, if you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse from sudden cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and begin Hands-Only CPR by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song, “Stayin’ Alive” until EMS arrives. Watching a one-minute Hands-Only CPR video can increase a person’s confidence to perform CPR, according to the AHA. The video is online at or through an app for Android or iPhones.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in New York State and the nation. Without immediate bystander intervention, cardiac arrest victim survival rates drop dramatically. Nearly 360,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States and survival depends on getting CPR immediately from someone nearby. Sadly, 70% of Americans feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they don’t know how to administer CPR or they’re afraid of hurting the victim.

The American Heart Association is currently advocating for a New York State law that will ensure that all students are trained in life-saving CPR before they graduate from high school. Currently, 19 states have passed similar laws. The NYS Senate and Assembly passed the CPR legislation earlier this year, and the bill is awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature. Local residents can find information about supporting the legislation online at To find a local CPR class, visit

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Apply Today for BetterU Challenge

2015 Dutchess-Ulster BetterU Makeover Challenge
Sponsored by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., taking the life of one in three women – almost one woman every minute. However, research shows that 80 percent of cardiac events in women are preventable and linked to poor choices involving diet, exercise and smoking. That’s why the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® is helping women speak up for their hearts and change this statistic by offering a free 12-week makeover, Go Red BetterU.

Locally, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation is the proud sponsor of the BetterU Challenge, a 12-week lifestyle change program. Twelve lucky participants will be selected to participate in the 12-week challenge. Each participant will receive:

• Baseline & 12-week medical readings by Health Quest Medical Practice
• 3-month membership to Gold’s Gym – LaGrange
• Personal training with Gold’s Gym
• Nutrition advice from a medical professional
• Supermarket shopping outing
• Group support from other BetterU participants
• The power, resources and tools of

Participants will be photographed before and after the 12-weeks, interviewed by media, asked to write about their experiences on the Poughkeepsie Journal’s BetterU Blog and help us celebrate the program by attending as our guests at the Go Red for Women Luncheon on February 27, 2015.

With Go Red BetterU, you’ll learn smart strategies and gain new information on improving and maintaining your health, along with the encouragement and advice of local coaches. Each week will focus on a different area to follow for a complete heart makeover. Live longer and stronger by taking 12 weeks to invest in your health!

Apply today for the BetterU Challenge!
Complete the application by October 12th. To download a copy visit or call 845-905-2134.

Sponsored by: