Petaluma Health Care District (PHCD) is proud to announce that Exchange Bank, the largest Sonoma County-headquartered community bank, has joined its HeartSafe Community initiative (HSC), a formal effort to decrease the number of deaths from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) by strengthening the community’s response to SCA through life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) installation and training. In February, recognized as National Heart Month, Exchange Bank will begin the process of becoming a HeartSafe Business by installing AEDs at nine of its locations throughout Sonoma County and offering expanded CPR certification and trainings to its employees.
“We are thrilled to add Exchange Bank to the growing number of HeartSafe Businesses that are proactively helping to ensure its customers, employees and the residents of our community know how to respond quickly and efficiently to a sudden cardiac emergency,” said PHCD CEO Ramona Faith. “Exchange Bank has always demonstrated a unique dedication to the community, with this effort as a prime example of showing its employees and customers that it prioritizes their health and safety.”
PHCD launched HSC in 2013 to strengthen Southern Sonoma County’s response to cardiac emergencies and increase survival rates through CPR and AED certification and trainings, strategic AED installation, maintenance and registration, and heart health education. The initiative is led by PHCD in collaboration with the Petaluma Fire Department, Coastal Valley Emergency Medical Services, St. Joseph Health, Arrow Benefits Group, Rancho Adobe Fire District, Petaluma City Schools, Save Lives Sonoma and the American Heart Association (AHA). HSC is managed by Healthquest CPR, an authorized AHA training center and service of PHCD. In June 2015, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Petaluma City Council formally designated Petaluma a “HeartSafe Community.”
Throughout the month of February, Exchange Bank will install AEDs in its three main offices in Santa Rosa and in six branch locations: Rohnert Park; Cotati; Petaluma Main; Healdsburg; Reinking (Montgomery Village); and Sebastopol.
“As a true community bank, the decisions we make in running our business come down to what is best for our customers and employees – and this mentality surely extends to wellness and safety initiatives. While we’ve offered CPR training to our employees for some time, partnering with PHCD and the HeartSafe Community initiative will take our rescue ready efforts to the next level, ensuring that even more employees are trained not only in CPR, but in using an AED,” said Exchange Bank’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources Lori Zaret. “PHCD made the process of becoming a HeartSafe Business so simple, answering any and all questions we had along the way and guiding us in putting a process in place that ensures our use of AEDs are covered by the Good Samaritan law and that there is no liability for use or non-use. We hope to be a role model to additional businesses in the community looking to implement this life-changing program.”
In addition to partnering with local businesses, PHCD and HSC are working with school districts to implement AED installations, along with staff trainings and maintenance plans to ensure ongoing compliance and safety. For example, the Petaluma City Schools District is the first district in Sonoma County to become HeartSafe, which includes a cardiac emergency response plan, a designated emergency response team, installation of AEDs with corresponding maintenance plans, and staff certification and training at each of its school sites. Similarly, Shoreline Unified School District has also become HeartSafe through PHCD’s initiative, becoming the first district in Marin County to do so. More broadly, HSC in 2015 certified 1,965 community members in CPR, with an additional 1,000 trained in hands-only CPR. Further, 33 AEDs were installed at various sites throughout Southern Sonoma County. All AED installations included an AED maintenance plan that fosters ongoing compliance to ensure devices and community members are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency. In 2015, PHCD also introduced the “Golden Heart Award,” honoring nine residents who used their CPR training to save a life.
“We applaud and thank all of our partners who have made a commitment to be ‘HeartSafe’. With AED ownership comes a responsibility to understand that having an AED placed at your business, school or community center is really just the first step. PHCD, along with the rest of our HSC partners, are educating the community that AEDs must be properly maintained and in compliance with new state and federal law to ensure that they are always ready in the event of a cardiac emergency,” added Faith. “Our HSC initiative offers specific programs based on the unique needs of our members. Maintenance is very minimal and we provide all instructions and training to help ensure ongoing compliance. There is nothing worse than thinking you are prepared for a life threatening situation when you actually aren’t. Our program is saving lives.”
Alarmingly, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and Sonoma County. In support of countywide comprehensive heart health efforts, PHCD and HSC has aligned with Hearts of Sonoma County, a three year Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Initiative spearheaded by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services to reduce heart attacks and strokes by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you would like to purchase an AED, have questions about an existing AED, or would like CPR/AED training, please contact Healthquest CPR at 707-766-9226 or [email protected].