Louisville, KY is home of the Kentucky Derby and a major public health problem: high mortality from cardiac arrest. Approximately 1 out of 10 cardiac arrest victims survive a cardiac arrest despite five major hospitals located throughout the metropolitan area. Only 25% of cardiac arrest victims in Louisville receive bystander CPR.

This is where Start the Heart Foundation (STHF) is making a difference. William C. Dillon MD, FACC, is the Founder and President of STHF. Dr. Dillon explains, “It is estimated that if a person is taught CPR once in their life, they will be 50% more likely to perform CPR if ever called upon. Start the Heart Foundation’s mission is to improve survival after cardiac arrest through community training and education. We have developed a 45 minute hands-only class that can be taught to youth and adults by volunteers”.

Volunteers consist of pre-med college students committed to making a difference in the community while also obtaining a valuable internship experience. STHF interns become CPR certified and teach hands-only CPR, heart healthy living and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator.

STHF taught hands-only CPR to 1,800 people using Mini Anne® Plus manikins. The foundation brought the class to community centers, churches, businesses and health fairs, sporting events, private homes, gymnasiums. Everything done in order to strengthen the chain of survival and increase awareness of bystander CPR.

During the school year, over 7,000 students completed hands-only CPR training. Dr. Dillon added that "in taking this approach, we hope to blanket the community over time with people educated in the performance of hands-only CPR”.

Mini Anne® Plus manikins from Laerdal Medical Corporation were chosen for these activities for many reasons, says Dr. Dillon. “First, they are light. We can easily carry 30 into a class in one trip. They are compact until we blow them up at our class location. One of the hallmarks of our class is that every person physically practices hands-only CPR with their own personal manikin without having to wait for a turn. In a short class with 30 students, this makes for an interactive and fast moving class. Lastly, the students can practice for several minutes, which gives them a realistic idea of how tiring CPR can be".

Dr. Dillon further reports that since teaching for one entire year, he had two students report that they have been in situations where they have used hands-only CPR to save a life. Dr. Dillon says, "We plan to continue our efforts and, hopefully, expand the program to other communities in the future”.