“Anyone can render aid as long as it’s in good faith. We want to break that stigma,” Platz said.
More machines and training
The goal in Coon Rapids is to get 300 AEDs distributed around the city and to train 30,000 people, or about half the population, in hands-only CPR.
There are now about 50 AEDs at local businesses and in city buildings.
Last winter, Coon Rapids police put AEDs in all of their squad cars because officers often arrived first on the scene.
“[Platz] has this big vision,” said Police Chief Brad Wise. “He knows sometimes people have a reluctance to get involved because they don’t feel like they know what to do. In reality, knowing what to do is really simple.”
Wise has allowed Platz to do some of his Heart Safe work on the clock but said the officer is using his free time to promote the grass-roots campaign.
“His energy and his drive is inspiring,” Wise said.
Platz has raised about $2,000 and used that money to buy CPR dummies and other training equipment. He has already trained hundreds of people at schools, businesses, nonprofits, even Little League diamonds across the city. He is also persuading businesses to invest in AEDs, which can cost $2,000. Assurance Manufacturing, the American Legion, a Boy Scout troop and the Bunker Hills Golf Course have bought discounted AEDs as part of the Heart Safe campaign.
Minutes, seconds count
It takes under 5 minutes to train someone in hands-only CPR and AED use, Platz said. An AED looks for an irregular rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. If detected, a shock is administered to restart the heart. AEDs are designed for layperson use. You don’t need special medical training to use one, Platz said.
Still, why not just play it safe and wait for police and medics to arrive?
“In this game, every second counts,” Platz explains.
There’s a critical two-minute window after someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest. Despite officers’ best efforts, traffic and other obstacles mean help can’t always arrive that swiftly.
Michael Hess is a big supporter of Platz’s efforts. Hess, an avid runner and triathlon competitor, was at Life Time Fitness stretching after a run when he collapsed this March. Platz responded to the call.
Emergency responders used their AED to shock Hess’s heart seven times, bringing him back to life. He’s now fully recovering and training for another triathlon.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s a great effort,” said Hess, 52, of Andover. “If I had passed out an hour earlier I would have been out on the road and I would not be talking to you now.”
Learning these skills isn’t just about saving a stranger. Nearly 90 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home, according to the American Heart Association. Learning hands-on CPR gives a person the chance to save their spouse, their parent, their child.