Vail Valley Bizwatch: Starting Hearts, a nonprofit dedicated to CPR |

Vail Valley Bizwatch: Starting Hearts, a nonprofit dedicated to CPR

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO, Colorado

Business name: Starting Hearts

Location: Wherever you are! We work on-site and are more than happy to find places willing to a host training. We are looking for a bus that can be converted to The HeartRod, a mobile CPR training unit that is capable of conducting certification courses and broadcasting awareness programs on the go.

Date opened: Fall, 2010.

Owner: Lynn Blake.

Contact info:


Phone: 970-331-3983.


Mail: P.O. Box 4318, Avon, 81620.

What goods or services do you provide? Starting Hearts is a public charity that provides education about cardipulmonary rescusitation (CPR) to anyone willing to learn. The desire is to reach the community’s unreached – the most economically, occupationally, and educationally disadvantaged and those who may not otherwise have access to such knowledge.

In an effort to reach this population, Starting Hearts will conduct programs ranging from a brief awareness/practice session from the trunk of a car to a full eight-hour American Heart Association certification program that includes CPR first aid, CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators.

Certification courses serve as our primary source of fundraising and we specialize in adult, child and infant classes. Starting Hearts will work with individuals, communities, families, organizations, schools, parenting groups, churches, government agencies and companies looking to create a safer environment. Every training opportunity is customized to the needs of each particular group.

What’s new or exciting at your place? We are raising money to launch the CPR America Tour, a national campaign designed to reach millions of everyday Americans. Pending funding, The HeartRod and team will hit the road for 60-days to cover more than 11,000 miles and 200 hours of driving time. We’ll take the program to one game at each of all 30 Major League Baseball stadium. Starting Hearts believes public events are an effective method of reaching people that might not otherwise gain awareness. What better venue than America’s favorite pastime?

The goal is to educate 1 million Americans that they possess the skills to save a friend, co-worker, stranger or even a loved one with a simple sequence of responses. Americans could save 156,000 lives every year if every witnessed victim received an effective response. Our goal is to prevent 1,000 of these unnecessary deaths. It would be wonderful to hit the road in 2011, but it might be 2012…

What strategy do you use to differentiate your business from your competition? Starting Hearts doesn’t have competition. Any person or organization willing to promote a life-saving emergency response is on the same team and we all have the same goal.

However, this organization is different because there is a real passion and true understanding behind all of the efforts that can only be found in a survivor. Starting Hearts was built on the desire to save more lives by making CPR education accessible to anyone willing to learn. This organization believes that money should not be a consideration when determining if one should learn the lifesaving skills of CPR, so we schedule all certifications, courses, programs, classes and meetings at no obligated expense.

What philosophy do you follow in dealing with your customers? What can your customers expect from you? It doesn’t matter when, where, or how you learn CPR – Starting Hearts just wants you to learn.

My philosophy is flexibility and my services are on your terms. For me, it’s not about classes, certifications and meeting regulatory requirements – it’s about saving a life and making a difference in the lives of others by preventing unnecessary deaths from sudden cardiac arrest.

Anyone requests a physical certification card must pay the $5 fee required by the issuing agency and I often suggest a minimum $10 tax-deductible donation to cover the expense associated with attendance.

Customers can expect: American Heart Association certified instructors, professional equipment, classroom manuals, current programs based on techniques and research suggested in the American Heart Association’s 2010 guidelines, and a survivor perspective.

Tell us a little about your background, education and experience:

I moved to the Vail Valley 2002 at the age of 22 from Fort Worth. Shortly after, I met the love of my life and we married in February of 2007. On Valentine’s Day 2007, just three days back from our honeymoon, our lives were changed forever. At the age of 27, I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. A divine series of events, including bystander CPR and early defibrillation saved my life. Over the past several years, I have contemplated the number of lives that could be saved if every person knew CPR and decided to establish Starting Hearts. I am one of the lucky ones who has been given another chance to make a difference and thus feel compelled to pursue this calling.

What is the most humorous thing that has happened at your business since you opened? Just two days prior to my first CPR class, I received several boxes containing half of the expected equipment and a notice stating that eight adult mannequins were on backorder and scheduled to ship two weeks later.

I was expecting several trainees and there was no way I was canceling my first free certification class open to the community! My first thought was to call my friend Jack Hansen, who graciously came to the rescue by making arrangements with a set of adult mannequins for me to borrow.

After all that coordinating, the equipment company ended up over-nighting everything I needed. It arrived an hour prior to the start of the class, so I managed without everything I had borrowed.

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