American Heart Association Presents 2021 Distinguished Service Awards to Two Extraordinary Leaders in Rhode Island

American Heart Association Presents 2021 Distinguished Service Awards to Senator Maryellen Goodwin and Representative Mia Ackerman

PROVIDENCE (DECEMBER 15, 2021) – The American Heart Association (AHA) today presented Senator Maryellen Goodwin (D-District 1, Providence) and Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-District 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) with 2021 Distinguished Service Awards in recognition of their leadership, commitment, and tireless efforts to advance the AHA’s mission, “to be a relentless force for a world of healthier, longer lives.”

During the 2021 Legislative Session, Goodwin and Ackerman sponsored Telecommunicator-CPR (T-CPR) legislation that requires all operators at the state 911 center to be trained and certified in Emergency Medical Dispatch and prepared to provide CPR instruction over the phone in the event of a cardiac arrest. The lifesaving legislation was signed into law by Governor McKee in June. The new law also establishes a call review and quality improvement program.

“Senator Goodwin and Rep. Ackerman are extraordinary leaders on public health issues at the State House,” said Megan Tucker, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “T-CPR will save lives in Rhode Island, and we are thrilled to recognize Senator Goodwin and Rep. Ackerman for their outstanding achievement in passing this lifesaving law.”

Each year an estimated 350,000 sudden cardiac arrest events occur in the United States in an out-of-hospital environment.

According to 2019 data, the majority of Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrests (OHCA) occur at a home or residence.  A public setting was the second most common location of OHCA.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s electrical system abruptly malfunctions, and the heart suddenly stops beating normally. It can happen to anyone at any time. Without quick intervention in the form of CPR and defibrillation, death from sudden cardiac arrest is certain. Sadly, only 10 percent of victims who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survive.

Treatment of cardiac arrest is a race against the clock. Having a bystander perform CPR before emergency medical services (EMS) personnel arrive on scene approximately doubles the chances of survival. An effective way to ensure that CPR is provided quickly is for emergency telecommunicators to provide instant instructions over the phone.  T-CPR allows bystander CPR to begin. It works by keeping the brain and heart alive until EMS arrives to provide defibrillation and other vital interventions. Simply put, T-CPR saves lives.

“We can’t thank Senator Goodwin and Rep. Ackerman enough for their leadership,” said Laurie Stephenson, congenital heart disease survivor and Rhode Island Advocacy Committee Chairwoman for the American Heart Association. “On behalf of the survivors, volunteers and staff, I congratulate them on this very well-deserved recognition and express our sincerest gratitude for their service in the General Assembly.”