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Take Heart St. Cloud donates life-saving devices

A group at Jefferson High School showed the new automated external defibrillator the school received from Take Heart St. Cloud. They included (left to right) Tom Mulder (a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest), Marissa Wheeler, Megan Bristow, Abby Telander, Principal Chad Duwenhoegger, Jenna Kramer, Ramey Rudolph and Ally Timm. Contributed photo.

Take Heart St. Cloud donated automated external defibrillators (AED) to the Alexandria Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Jefferson High School in Alexandria.

Based at the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center (CCHVC) at St. Cloud Hospital, Take Heart St. Cloud is committed to saving lives from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

An AED is an easy-to-use computerized device that checks the heart rhythm to determine whether a shock is needed. Users just turn it on and a recorded voice will guide them.

A shock will be advised when the heart is in ventricular fibrillation, which causes the heart to flutter, not beat, and little to no blood is pumped throughout the body and to the brain.

AEDs deliver a brief, but powerful electrical shock to the heart to restore the heart's natural rhythm.

Together with CCHVC, Take Heart St. Cloud has donated more than 90 AEDs to primarily first responders, (law enforcement, fire departments) and large public venues (schools, _government buildings).

The donations were made possible by a grant from the CentraCare Health Foundation to expand the Take Heart community-wide, systems-based approach to increasing the survival rate from out-of-hospital SCA.

"Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one cause of death in the United States," said Susie Osaki Holm, Take Heart St. Cloud program manager. "The national average is only five out of 100 people will survive. For the best chance of survival and prevention of brain damage, CPR should be started immediately and an AED applied to determine the need for a life-saving shock to get the blood pumping throughout the body."

For every minute that passes, the chance for survival drops about 10 percent, which means a person could be dead in 10 minutes, Osaki Holm explained.

"So, if you see someone suddenly collapse and find the person is not breathing and unresponsive, immediately call 911, begin CPR and apply an AED if available and follow the verbal instructions," she said.

In addition to donating the AEDs, Take Heart has promoted free bystander CPR/AED trainings in high schools and businesses that can be completed in less than an hour.

Take Heart has partnered with North Memorial Ambulance to have its emergency medical services educator conduct the trainings at Jefferson High School.

Luke Erickson, health teacher and coach at Jefferson, has been a strong advocate for teaching CPR to his students.

About 160 students were trained last October and more of Erickson's students will be trained during spring semester.

In addition, Tom Mulder, who is a sudden cardiac arrest survivor, shared his experience with the students at the start of the trainings.

His daughter, who learned CPR at Jefferson in the same classroom where the trainings were held, provided CPR along with her husband and mother to save her father's life.

For more information about Take Heart St. Cloud, visit