Vail, Colorado December 7th, 2020. Eagle County is now the safest place in America to experience sudden cardiac arrest. The partnership between Vail Health and local nonprofit Starting Hearts to place lifesaving defibrillators throughout Eagle County over the last four years has been completed. Starting Hearts and Vail Health entered into a strategic alliance to enhance the community's ability to improve outcomes for sudden cardiac arrest victims in Eagle County through the education of thousands of residents in CPR and defibrillator use, as well as to significantly increase the number of public access defibrillators throughout the county. This dynamic alliance has made Eagle County a model community for the nation by creating safer environments for victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), the nation's leading cause of unexpected and preventable death.
In October 2015, an agreement was entered into to place 46 DEFIBSs over the period of the next two years. In May 2017, Vail Health and Starting Hearts renewed their strategic partnership for an additional two years to include another 36 devices, resulting in a total of 82 devices placed. The initiative boosted the total number of public DEFIBS in the community to over 400 and has resulted in increased awareness and education about sudden cardiac arrest response, promotion of a mobile app which pinpoints the locations of public DEFIBS, and a community Neighbor Saver program that empowers its citizens.
Specific areas of the cooperation included: defibrillator placements in highly trafficked public locations; widespread education of the population of Eagle County; community engagement in government, business, and the public; and mutual marketing and branding activities. The overall ability of our community to respond to sudden cardiac arrest has been greatly enhanced by this effort, and the benefit of this cooperation will be realized for many years to come. With many more lifesaving devices now available, and with thousands of citizens trained to provide early care when needed, survival rates will continue to rise as precious lives are saved. This model will serve not only Eagle County but also other communities across the state for years to come.
“We are so happy to have had this partnership with Starting Hearts” said Vail Health’s President and CEO Will Cook. “Vail Health’s cardiology team and our cardiac catheterization lab are world-class but there's a small window of time to save the life of a cardiac arrest victim and bystander interventions make a life-saving difference. Having DEFIBS accessible in public areas and neighborhoods make an impact on survival rates and we are so proud to be a partner with Starting Hearts to make Eagle County the safest place in America to suffer a cardiac arrest.”
Starting Hearts is a non-profit organization that provides free CPR and DEFIB education and installs and maintains DEFIBS throughout Eagle County. Starting Hearts was founded by Vail Valley resident Lynn Blake in 2010 after collapsing from SCA at the young age of 27. A bystander responded quickly to perform CPR and Vail firefighters and paramedics saved her life with a DEFIB.
“We are so grateful to Vail Health for supporting Starting Hearts in our mission to save lives of SCA victims” said Alan Himelfarb, Starting Heart’s Executive Director. “Through the generous donation of the Vail Health Foundation, this partnership is helping to save precious lives in our communities.”
About Vail Health Vail Health is a nonprofit community health care system serving patients and guests from around the world. Locally operated and governed by a volunteer board of directors, Vail Health includes a 56-bed hospital, accredited by the Joint Commission. Our 24/7 emergency department in Vail is a Level III Trauma Center with a nearby helipad for necessary medical transports.