Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Starting Hearts saving lives, spreading awareness |

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Starting Hearts saving lives, spreading awareness

Tricia Swenson
Off the Hill

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If you had told Lynn Blake on Valentine’s Day 2007 that she would eventually start a nonprofit that helped save lives from sudden cardiac arrest, then she would have never believed you.

That was before it happened to her.

The newlywed had just returned from her honeymoon and was on her third day at a new job in Vail. That day, this young, athletic, non-smoker had sudden cardiac arrest. A co-worker started to administer CPR while someone else called 911. Luckily, her office was across the street from the Vail Fire Department and they were able to assist with CPR and defibrillation until the paramedics arrived.

Blake was one of the lucky ones. The swift action by co-workers and proximity to care was the difference between life and death. For every minute that goes by, the chance of survival decreases by 10 percent, she said.

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With her second chance on life, Blake founded Starting Hearts, a nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of sudden cardiac arrest victims through free CPR and defibrillator training and access programs. These automated external defibrillators are portable electronic devices that help the heart reestablish an effective rhythm.

Starting Hearts is already responsible for over 300 defibrillators in Eagle County and they are not stopping there. They plan to have a total of 450 public locations, making Eagle County the highest per capita rate of defibrillators in the nation.

To help them reach their goal, Starting Hearts is participating in the Revlon Million Dollar Challenge. Revlon has selected 150 nonprofits involved in women’s health issues. The nonprofit that raises the most money during the six-week challenge will win $1 million from Revlon. The fundraising deadline is Oct. 26.

In addition to public support, Starting Hearts advocate Dr. Alan Markowitz, renowned cardiac surgeon and professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, is pledging matching funds for donations to Starting Hearts during the Revlon $1 Million Challenge.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading killer in the world today. About 1,000 people in the U.S. die daily from sudden cardiac arrest.

To donate to Starting Hearts, visit

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