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City of La Porte Becomes First Community in Indiana to Achieve HEARTSafe Designation

Years of committed work have culminated in a milestone achievement: La Porte is the first city in Indiana to achieve HEARTSafe Community designation.  

Earning this designation makes La Porte an official part of the HEARTSafe Community initiative, a national preparedness program dedicated to improving outcomes of sudden cardiac arrest led by the Citizen CPR Foundation.  

La Porte joins other cities and communities — most recently Johnson County, Iowa; Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; and La Crosse, Wisc. — in achieving HEARTSafe Community status.  

The La Porte HEARTSafe Community team decided to pursue this designation “as a strategy to continue to help the City of La Porte community continue to improve the survival rates of cardiac arrest victims,” according to a February 2024 update from the Health Foundation of La Porte. “The HEARTSafe Community program is set on the principle that lives can be saved by being prepared with prevention, early access to care, early CPR, early defibrillation, and early advanced care.” 

To become HEARTSafe, a community must fulfill 13 criteria. Some of these requirements include establishing a lead organization to guide and coordinate local efforts, training 15 percent of the community population every year, developing and implementing strategies to improve public awareness and bystander intervention, permanently placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that can be quickly and reliably accessed, and recognizing rescuers for their lifesaving efforts, among other critical requisites. For a comprehensive list of criteria in order to become a HEARTSafe Community, click here

A number of partners united to help La Porte meet those criteria, including lead organization City of La Porte Fire Department, La Porte County E-911, La Porte County EMS, La Porte County Fire Chief Association, Northwest Health – La Porte, Play for Jake Foundation, and former Health Foundation of La Porte (HFL) Board Member Jane Nelson. The Task Force was convened by the Health Foundation of La Porte.  

Together, the group led data and information collection to meet HEARTSafe Community guidelines. This process also prompted the development of additional protocols and identified state-of-the-art tools to improve sudden cardiac arrest outcomes.  

“I am extremely excited for the City of La Porte to be considered for this designation,” says Chief Andy Snyder, City of La Porte Fire Department. “It is a chance to recognize many of the great things this amazing community and our department are doing to improve heart health and the chances of survival in the event of a cardiac emergency. Through the efforts of HFL and the community, we are making a real difference should the unthinkable happen.”  

And for La Porte, the work is far from done. The city’s HEARTSafe Community team continues making progress toward a number of goals, including:  

  • Train all City of La Porte employees in CPR (who are not already trained), an initiative led by Mayor Tom Dermody and Chief Snyder 
  • Train all county employees in CPR, led by the La Porte County Fire Chief Association President Randy Novak, with support from EMS  
  • Encourage other organizations throughout La Porte to develop cardiac arrest emergency response plans 
  • Install AEDs in key public places 
  • Educate the community on the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, prevention and how to respond in an emergency 

“We are thrilled about this next step in improving outcomes for people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest,” says Maria Fruth, President and CEO, Health Foundation La Porte. “The City of La Porte becoming a HEARTSafe Community builds on all of the work we have been doing at HFL, which started with the La Porte Hospital Foundation several years ago. Through our When Seconds Count: AED Initiative, HFL has awarded 249 AEDs to nonprofits, schools, and local government agencies, and we have awarded grants to the City of La Porte Fire Department to assist them to provide free CPR classes to the community. In total, HFL has invested $582,006 in AED and CPR-related grants since 2017, and we are looking forward to this next step in our journey.”  

Stuart Berger, MD, President of the Citizen CPR Foundation Board and Division Head of Cardiology at the Children’s Hospital of Chicago, says La Porte is a wonderful example of community commitment and collaboration.  

The Citizen CPR Foundation thanks the entire La Porte team for the unwavering work with regard to the recognition, response, care and outcomes of sudden cardiac arrest. 

“La Porte shows us all how communities work so very hard and leverage resources to save hearts too young to die,” Berger says. “Thank you so very, very much to all of those who have worked to achieve this designation.” 

On Tuesday, April 9, 2024, HFL hosted an event to celebrate the designation, welcoming the HEARTSafe Community task force and HFL’s 2024 AED grantees. 

Each year, HFL provides grants for lifesaving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) through its When Seconds Count: AED Initiative. HFL accepts applications for AED grants from organizations in La Porte County beginning February 14 each year.  

During Tuesday’s event, 17 La Porte County grantees received 41 AEDs, 37 AED cabinets, and appropriate signage. In total, $97,117 was awarded. 

To be eligible for HFL’s When Seconds Count, AED grant applicants must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, school, or governmental entity. Applicants can learn more about HFL’s AED grants at https://www.hflaporte.org/when-seconds-count-aed.   

HFL’s 2024 When Seconds Count: AED Grantees 

American Legion Skwiat Post 451 
City of La Porte Fire Department 
City of La Porte Park and Recreation Department 
Discover & Explore Montessori Preschool 
La Porte County Parks Department 
Long Beach Volunteer Fire Department 
Michiana Humane Society 
Michigan City Area Schools 
MSD of New Durham Township 
Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church 
The Pax Center 
The Salvation Army of Michigan City 
Save the Dunes 
The SHARE Foundation 
Trinity Episcopal Church 
VFW Dunes Relief Post 2536 
VFW 1130 

About the Citizen CPR Foundation 

The mission of the Citizen CPR Foundation is to save lives from sudden cardiac arrest by stimulating effective community, professional and citizen action. This mission is put into action through three core values: We know that CPR and AED use saves lives. Collaboration among citizens, professionals, communities, and organizations is key to survival from cardiac arrest. Action based on best practices in science, education, and implementation improves outcomes. www.citizencpr.org