North Georgia Heart Foundation
Where: University of North Georgia Oakwood Building, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood
More info: www.pulseoftomorrow.org
In North Georgia, only about 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive.
For years, the North Georgia Heart Foundation has worked to improve those odds.
In the last two years, the heart foundation has upped its efforts, training approximately 11,000 people in hands-only CPR.
“We’re primarily providing CPR education and AED education and awareness in the community and in the schools,” board chairman Dr. George Ordway told The Times Wednesday. “Just this morning, we trained 279 freshmen at Johnson High School in bystander CPR and how to use an AED.”
These educational efforts are one facet of the work the foundation does regularly. It also has a campaign called Raise the 8, which strives to increase that 8 percent survival rate by encouraging businesses to have an automated external defibrillator on site.
Four local businesses — Wilheit Packaging, Turner, Wood & Smith, Milton Martin Honda and Lincoln Financial Group — and their nearly 450 total employees have joined the campaign, placing AEDs on their properties and educating their employees.
The heart foundation was founded four years ago for this very purpose.
“As it’s known now, the North Georgia Heart Foundation was founded in 2012 pretty much under the leadership of Dr. Jeffrey Marshall,” Ordway said. “He and some others put together a board of directors, and we’ve been meeting since October 2012.”
The purpose of the foundation, Ordway said, was to create a local foundation that focuses on cardiovascular health and disease.
“Unfortunately, the emphasis is more on disease, given the extent to which it exists,” Ordway said.
The foundation has two main avenues through which it focuses on cardiovascular health: research and education. Ordway said it is already deeply involved in research with “a number of clinical trials” in conjunction with Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Meanwhile, Ordway heads up the education arm of the foundation. His aim is simple: to increase survival.
Ordway said he credits not just the foundation, but the entire community, for the increased education over the last few years.
“We’ve been working with others who’ve enabled all of us to do that,” he said.
He works with nursing students from the University of North Georgia and Brenau University, EMT students at Lanier Technical College, Hall County Fire Services, the local school systems and more.
Over the weekend, several of these Lanier Tech students joined Ordway at the Harvest Balloon Festival in Flowery Branch. He estimates the students were able to educate as many as 1,600 people in CPR practices.
Ordway said he hopes the foundation will be able to continue its partnerships in the community to “raise the 8” further. For more information about the North Georgia Heart Foundation and joining Raise the 8, visit pulseoftomorrow.org.
“The hope for the future is to continue these two aspects — the research and the education,” he said. “And to make more people aware of not just how to treat it when something bad happens, but also how to prevent something in the first place.”