Mission: Project Heart Start (PHS) is a program dedicated to teaching four lifesaving skills to all capable individuals in New Mexico. The skills are performing compression-only CPR (COCPR), proper utilization of automated external defibrillators (AED), saving choking victims and recognizing the signs of a heart attack and learning how to respond. The mission is to create a sustainable program that can be presented by large groups of volunteers and trained responders to an organization on a recurring basis utilizing the train-the-trainer approach. Since our first program in 2011, we have been able to stay focused on our mission and have trained more than 140,000 New Mexicans.
The Rationale for Project Heart Start Curriculum: PHS curriculum is unique in that most national organizations teach only COCPR. The PHS course teaches four live saving skills. The following is the rationale for our program. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and heart attacks are leading causes of death and disability. More than 350,000 people suffer an out-of-hospital SCA in the US every year. A person suffering a SCA has less than a 10% chance of surviving. In Seattle, Washington where more than two thirds of the population have been trained in CPR and AEDs are ubiquitous, the survival is double or triple that. In Las Vegas casinos where CPR is initiated immediately and an AED is often used in less than 3 minutes, survival is greater than 60%. These statistics show that hearts leading to SCA out of the hospital are not usually experiencing a “massive heart attack” but rather a lethal heart rhythm that when corrected with an AED can save a life often with little heart damage. So, our course trains the student how to perform high quality chest compressions and how to use an AED.
Heart attacks can damage the heart if not treated rapidly but are also a cause of SCA. Half of patients suffering a heart attack die before they reach a hospital. A major factor is the delay in the patient calling 911 for help. The third component of our program is teaching the students how to recognize the signs of a heart attack and what to do. Because more than 60,000 people die in the US each year from choking, our course teaches how to recognize a choking victim and how to perform the Heimlich maneuver to relieve the obstructed airway.
The Project Heart Start Curriculum: The hour long program will teach the student four lifesaving skills utilizing both a didactic and hands on approach . The program is presented by facilitators who have taken a PHS facilitator course. The course does not provide certification. If a student wants certification, they should take a four-hour course.
- Project Heart Start video: The students learn about SCA and that performing CPR can save lives. There is a demonstration of the proper technique for compression-only CPR, the use of an AED, how to recognize the signs of a heart attack and how to save a choking victim.
- The psychomotor skills needed to provide high quality CPR are practiced utilizing mannequins that provide feedback on the adequacy of the compressions. An AED trainer allows the student to learn how to use the device and a choking vest allows hands on learning of the Heimlich maneuver.
- A brief test at the end of the course is administered to reinforce what was learned.
Equipment: The New Mexico Heart Institute Foundation provides all the equipment for the one-hour course. This includes a training video, CPR mannequins, an AED trainer and a choking vest. A facilitator’s video and the video used to teach the students are downloaded from the Project Heart Start website projectheartstartnm.com. A test is provided to be administered at the completion of the hands-on section of the course.
Accomplishments: Project Heart Start has trained more than 140,000 people in New Mexico since 2011.
The success is based on the concept of training the trainer and the enormous support of volunteer facilitators. School nurses, physical education teachers and health teachers are facilitators in the schools. In businesses, security personnel, health workers and others have taken on the facilitator role. Our hope is that the course engenders confidence that the student would initiate CPR and utilize the three other lifesaving skills when confronted with an emergency.
Importantly, in 2015, PHS initiated the passage of a law by the New Mexico Legislature. The Governor signed a bill making use of the AED protected under the Good Samaritan Act. This encouraged many sites to purchase AEDs.
How this was carried out: Trainings are offered in a wide variety of venues.
- Annual PHS Day: Every June, mass trainings are held in three locations in the four-county area. This event is widely advertised and is used to raise awareness of SCA and the signs of a heart attack.
- School Programs: In March 2016, New Mexico Legislature passed the “teaching lifesaving skills” bill initiated by Project Heart Start. This bill requires that the four elements of our course are taught to all high school students throughout the state as a requirement for graduation.
- PHS for business, social groups and government employees: Thousands of people have been trained in workplace, social organizations and other venues where people congregate.
- PHS in the Neighborhoods: We have sent trainers to train members of neighborhood associations.
Sponsorship: The New Mexico Heart Institute Foundation, through generous donors, commercial enterprise philanthropy and foundations, has provided the financial support for the program. In kind support has come from KOAT TV, the state’s leading television station. KOAT has been committed to health promotion supporting the goals of PHS. Project Heat Start Day has had the support of The Albuquerque Journal, Cumulus Radio and Clear Channel. A broad range of commercial sponsors help with Project Heart Start Day.
Future: Our goal is to train all capable New Mexicans how to perform the four lifesaving skills presented in the PHS program. We will encourage the widespread placement of AEDs. PHS wants to educate the public about heart disease prevention.
We will expand our program throughout the state working with government, civic, education and businesses to make training easily obtained and develop a sense that learning these lifesaving skills is a civic duty. Programs will be offered in English, Spanish and Native American languages. The goal is to have at least 30% of the people living in the state get trained in the essentials presented by Project Heart Start by 2022 and to assist other communities outside New Mexico to take on the project.
The following organizations have adopted Project Heart Start and have plans in place to train employees, students and associated families: