SALT LAKE CITY — House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart made a special note on her calendar so she’d remember to wear red on Friday.
Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, sported not only a red shirt under his suit jacket, but also red hair at the Senate floor meeting.
They and many others dressed in red for Heart on the Hill Day and the 11th annual Go Red for Women Day to raise awareness of heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women.
Representatives from Utah’s American Heart Association joined dozens of red-clad community members meeting with lawmakers Friday to encourage CPR education.
The specific goal was a $200,000 appropriation to restore CPR training in high schools, funding that was cut after the recession. The cost would be about $6.25 per student taught.
“The only reason I’m here today is because people like you have gone out and asked for funding and have pushed to have things not go to the back burner, but to push forward,” said Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, who shared his experience having multiple heart surgeries.
Community members participating in Heart on the Hill Day were encouraged to write notes to their legislators and get in touch with them. Lockhart, R-Provo, offered advice on how to connect with legislators.
She said the first step is knowing who your senator and House members are and then developing a personal relationship with them.
“You need to be able to call that person or email and talk about your issue and have that person remember who you are,” said Lockhart, who has kept her nursing license active and said she may go back to health care after finishing her self-imposed term limit this year.
Lockhart said people should be knowledgeable about the issues they approach lawmakers with and avoid sending form emails because they’ll often be deleted. She recommended constituents identify themselves as such in the subject line and in the email.
After a standing-room-only meeting, the group visited both the House and Senate sessions. Individuals who saved lives using CPR were recognized at the meetings, including Scott Hunt, who received the Heart Saver award.
The South Jordan man said he learned CPR when he was 15 years old and never thought he’d have to do it. But one day at work, he turned around and saw a co-worker face down on the ground.
“The training that I had learned back in high school and in Boy Scouts, it just came through and I remembered it and I was able to help save Kent’s life,” Hunt said.
IASIS Healthcare provided CPR demonstrations and free health screenings in the rotunda. The importance of bystander CPR was hit hard by Dr. Lillian Khor, president of the Utah American Heart Association Board of Directors.
Khor said 88 percent of cardiac arrest cases occur in the home. However, she said, only a third of the population knows how to respond.
“What’s really important about this funding is that we’re empowering people, everyday people. You don’t necessarily have to have advanced training. CPR is one that is extremely easy to learn and it can save lives,” she said, adding that her 8-year-old son can do it.
Those performing CPR should spend less than 10 seconds checking breathing and pulse, then tell someone to call 911 and begin hands-only CPR, Khor said. She described it as basically chest compressions that are hard, 2 inches deep, and fast, 100 beats per minute, or about the pace of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
“No matter who you are, what age you are or your level of education, there’s a very simple maneuver that can make the difference between life and death,” Khor said.
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