Thank you for supporting Starting Hearts and helping save lives (letter) | VailDaily.com

Thank you for supporting Starting Hearts and helping save lives (letter)

2018 has been an historic year for Starting Hearts, due in large part to the many wonderful supporters in the communities we serve. This year, after our inaugural training of more than 5,000 students in Eagle County public schools, we entered into an agreement to teach 3,500 students in Summit County and subsequently received funding to teach 1,600 students in Park County.

We were honored to work with Principal Wade Hill to provide Red Cross certification to the student body of Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, likely the first time in the nation that an entire school received this level of training. With the wonderful support of Brice May, of Vail Ski Patrol, we are supporting the training of many of the 2,400 Vail Resorts ski instructors.

From very humble beginnings in 2010, we now teach well over 5,000 people per year in leadership and lifesaving skills, and we may reach 10,000 in 2019.

In our effort to make Eagle County the safest place in America to experience a sudden cardiac arrest, we placed 100 public access defibrillators this year, raising our county's total to more than 400, one of the highest per capita rates in the nation. Much of this is due to the great support of Vail Health, which has underwritten a total of 82 units over the past three years while supporting our educational initiatives. These devices will stand ready to save lives for decades to come, and we wish to sincerely thank Vail Health for its recognition and support of these important lifesaving defibrillators.

Save rates in Eagle County continue to rise as we now exceed the national average by 2 1/2 times. This is a testament to the many outstanding contributing agencies, including all of our fire departments, police departments, sheriff, paramedic services and health care providers.

With financial support from so many citizens, city and county governments, our banks and businesses and private family foundations, we believe the future is bright for so many victims, who, like our founder, Lynn Blake, will be saved by early care from citizen heroes.

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As I often say to my students, "If a loved one of yours needed help, wouldn't you want someone to be there to save their life?" Of course they would. "And if I need your help, would you help me?" Of course they would. We are raising a generation of true Neighbor Savers who will contribute greatly to many precious victims' lives, their families, friends and colleagues.

In this holiday season, from the bottom of our hearts, we wish to thank all of you for your continued support of Starting Hearts and our mission to make Eagle County a model for the nation. Happy holidays!

Alan Himelfarb and Lynn Blake

Starting Hearts