WAAS paramedic launches “Project Helping Hearts”

Winona Area Ambulance Service paramedic Andrew Teska is launching a community service project that could save the life of someone you love—it may even save your life.

Teska’s “Project Helping Hearts” is an initiative to provide the most immediate care possible to people who experience sudden cardiac arrest while in a public place. The project’s success will be dependent on information gathering and the use of technology.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S. An estimated 325,000 people die each year—nearly 1,000 per day. One fourth of sudden cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from a bystander. The American Heart Association estimates that effective bystander CPR, provided immediately, can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival.

Teska said that the potential for rapid response can be increased by using current cell phone technology to send an alert to CPR-trained bystanders, including notification about where an automated external defibrillator (AED) is located.

“With the technology that’s available today, we have the power to save more lives—and community members and area businesses and organizations will be an important part of this effort,” said Teska. “I’m excited about leading this community service project.”

Although he’s spearheading the project, Teska noted that several people, including John Gallagher, MD, a Winona Health Emergency Department physician and co-medical director of Winona Area Ambulance Service (WAAS), and Karla Eppler, WAAS operations manager, are supporting the effort.

The project will get underway with Teska and other WAAS staff conducting a door-to-door campaign to businesses and public buildings in Winona and Goodview in an effort to learn about each venue such as whether they currently are equipped with an AED.

The project will involve several phases including:

• building a database of the information collected

• incorporating information into the law enforcement center’s computer-aided dispatch console

• community education

Businesses, community organizations or individuals interested in helping with Project Helping Hearts should contact Andy Teska at Winona Area Ambulance Service: 507. 452.5351. Project Helping Hearts is on Facebook: facebook.com/projecthelpinghearts and twitter @HelpingHeartsToday.


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