Valentine's Day 2011 is the city's ambitious goal to prepare a quarter of its population to help victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
It happens every day: to the hostess at a restaurant, to the referee at a basketball game, to the grandfather raking leaves down the block. A heart stops beating without warning, and the victim collapses.
So what do bystanders do after they've called 911?
Too often, nothing. "When we're talking about sudden cardiac arrest, we're talking in minutes," said Lakeville Police Chief Tom Vonhof. Even so, he said, police officers and firefighters are often the first to give CPR or use a defibrillator on a patient.
To make sure those precious minutes are never wasted, city and school leaders have an ambitious goal: By Valentine's Day 2011, they want to train one quarter of Lakeville's population in basic CPR. That's 14,000 people.
Lakeville's effort, dubbed "Heart Restart," will start with a few experienced trainers working with small groups, said organizer Kathy Lewis, a school board member and intensive care nurse. Those people will reach out to churches, block party leaders, Boy Scout troops -- anyone who will listen. Then those people will take what they've learned home to friends and neighbors.
The campaign started in the fall after Lewis heard a talk by Keith Lurie, a University of Minnesota heart specialist who co-founded Take Heart America, an initiative that aims to prepare communities to save lives threatened by sudden cardiac arrest, which kills more than 250,000 Americans a year. For people who fall victim outside of a hospital, it's fatal about 95 percent of the time, according to Take Heart.
But Lurie says communities can improve those grim statistics if they battle back together, getting a lot of people involved and using high-quality training and equipment. In St. Cloud and Anoka, the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest was 9 percent in 2005, the year before Take Heart started pilot programs in those two communities. In a two-year period after the pilots started, it rose to 17 percent, with 47 of 277 patients surviving.
Take Heart aims to improve treatment in four phases that correspond to a patient's caretakers: bystanders, first responders such as police, ambulance crews and hospital workers.
Lakeville is focusing on the bystanders, "helping people understand that it's not scary to perform CPR," said Debbie Gillquist, executive director of Take Heart America.
Trainers will keep a tally online of how many people they've reached, and organizers are seeking private donations to cover the cost of the campaign. CPR kits with small, collapsible mannequins that cost $20 each will probably be the biggest expense, said Vonhof, who estimated they'll need a couple hundred to get started.
The training that Lakeville organizers envision isn't full-blown CPR certification, which can take hours. The point is to get people comfortable with the basics, and Lewis figures that, depending on the size of the group, she can do that in 20 minutes to an hour.
That much know-how can save lives, Gillquist said. "A lot of folks believe that in order to learn CPR, you need to be certified, but it's really not necessary," she said. Chances are good, she added, that, "If you do nothing, the person will die."
Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016