American Heart Association marks 100 years, pushes for CPR training at Massachusetts State House

In a poignant blend of celebration and advocacy, the American Heart Association marked its centennial anniversary on Wednesday at the Massachusetts State House, coinciding with CPR and AED Awareness Week.

The event underscored the organization’s mission to teach as many people as possible how to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Local survivors shared compelling testimonies, their stories serving as powerful reminders of the critical importance of quick action in cardiac emergencies. WWLP-22News reporter Olivia Ray covered the event. Watch her report:

CPR and the use of AEDs — techniques that can restart a patient’s heart — took center stage at the event. The American Heart Association is advocating for these skills to become as common as basic first aid, aiming to significantly reduce fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest.

“Our goal is to create a nation of lifesavers,” said Allyson Perron Drag, government relations director for the American Heart Association. “The best way to increase bystander response is to train students before they graduate high school. Surprisingly, kids often act quicker and with more composure than adults in crisis situations.”

The event featured a demonstration by Harvard University student EMTs, showcasing the simplicity and effectiveness of hands-only CPR. The Association is pushing for state-mandated CPR training in schools.

The celebration at the State House wasn’t just a nod to the past, but a rallying cry for a future where every citizen is empowered to save a life. As one survivor put it, “Knowledge is the best gift we can give each other. Today, we’re not just celebrating 100 years of the AHA; we’re celebrating the potential to save countless lives in the years to come.”