New Hampshire advocate visits nation’s capital to advocate for stronger chain of survival

Emily Knight, RN, of Strafford joined the American Heart Association, celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service as the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, and advocates from across the country in Washington, D.C., this week to ask Congress to support legislation that would improve the chain of survival in elementary and secondary schools. Knight is a long-time Association volunteer and member of their New Hampshire Board of Directors.

Strafford’s Emily Knight, RN, urges Congress to support efforts that save lives from cardiac arrest.

“I’ve worn many hats during my three decades as a nurse. I’ve educated physicians, worked with state legislators, sat on the board of directors for New Hampshire’s sudden youth death committee and, most importantly, cared for some incredibly resilient children,” said Knight, who is the Training Center Coordinator and is on the Pediatric Advanced Life Support faculty with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.  “We often think of cardiac arrests as happening to older adults, but the fact is up to 23,000 children in the U.S. will experience a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital this year. And for every minute without CPR, chances of survival drop by 10%.”

The advocates, including cardiac arrest survivors, families who have lost a loved one and health care providers, are part of the Association’s national grassroots network, You’re the Cure. During their meetings on Capitol Hill, advocates shared their personal stories and urged elected officials to swiftly pass the Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Research and Training in the Schools Act or HEARTS Act (H.R. 6829) and the Access to AEDs Act (S. 1024), the former of which was approved unanimously by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March.

The group emphasized the need for comprehensive legislation, such as the HEARTS Act and Access to AEDs Act, to support CPR and AED training in K-12 schools, enable the purchase of AEDs for use in schools, foster new and existing community partnerships to promote the importance of defibrillation in schools and create cardiac emergency response plans, which can help reduce death from cardiac arrest in school settings.

“We believe the bipartisan HEARTS Act and Access to AEDs Act, along with similar legislation in states across the country, will help create more lifesavers in our communities and make our schools safer for students, staff and visitors on campuses nationwide,” said Nancy Vaughan, government relations director for the American Heart Association in New Hampshire.

According to the American Heart Association, only about 1 in 10 people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital will survive. Early access to 911 and immediate CPR are the first two links in the chain of survival. Having a cardiac emergency response plan empowers people nearby to take action and can more than double survival rates from cardiac arrest. The Association created the Nation of Lifesavers initiative with the goal of doubling cardiac arrest survival rates by 2030.

“One of the other hats I’ve been lucky to wear is a mom to student athletes,” said Knight. “As a parent and health care provider, I am urging Congress to pass the HEARTS Act and the Access to AEDs Act to ensure that more people are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency in schools and to save lives.”

People across the country are encouraged to join the advocates in Washington in pushing Congress to pass these lifesaving policies by texting ‘AED’ to 46839.

Additional Resources:

Link to story on Association’s national newsroom

Association’s You’re the Cure website