Members of the University of Connecticut community worried about cardiac arrest can rest easy now that UConn has been designated a HEARTSafe campus.
Thanks to 2019 UConn graduate Justin Pedneault, all UConn campuses, including the School of Law, are now HEARTSafe, a distinction granted by the American Heart Association and the Connecticut Department of Public Health Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS).
The goal of a HEARTSafe designation is to improve survival chances for anyone who suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, according to UConn Today. It involves installing Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) and training community members in CPR. The distinction is usually reserved for towns/municipalities and businesses, but UConn is the first institute of higher education in the state to earn it.
The initiative started somewhat by accident, Pedneault said. He originally intended only to make the UConn School of Nursing a HEARTSafe workplace, but after learning there was no HEARTSafe distinction for colleges in Connecticut, Pedneault proposed that the rest of UConn earn the distinction as well.
To earn the recognition, Pedneault, along with UConn firefighter Benjamin Roper and members of UConn Rescue and the UConn Fire Department, spent countless hours installing AEDs around campus and training students and staff in CPR and first aid. They walked every hallway of every building on all of UConn's campuses to find potential AED locations.
“[We] spent many, many days walking every building,” Pedneault said.
Now, UConn has roughly 135 AEDs throughout its campuses, with 90 in Storrs alone. There is an AED within a three-minute round-trip walk from anywhere on campus. About 270 bleeding control kits, maintained by the UConn Fire Department, are stashed within the AED boxes.
AEDs are designed to be simplistic, Pedneault said.
“The first word of (AED) is ‘automated,’ so it makes all the decisions for you,” Pedneault said.
Mitali Banerjee, UConn Rescue president and certified EMT, said her club plans to continue improving safety at UConn by offering classes in CPR, first aid and bleeding control.
"[We're] making it possible for anyone on campus to be able to obtain materials needed to save a life," Banerjee said.
Keely Greiner is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com