Making Killingly a ‘HEARTsafe’ community

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Mar. 14, 2011
Killingly Town Councilor Tammy Wakefield holds an AED and one of 10 street signs to be posted along town roads. Photo by Denise Coffey.
Killingly Town Councilor Tammy Wakefield holds an AED and one of 10 street signs to be posted along town roads. Photo by Denise Coffey.

Killingly has been designated a “HEARTsafe community” in large part due to Town Councilor Tammy Wakefield. The HEARTsafe designation comes from the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s program that aims to increase the likelihood that someone suffering a cardiac arrest will survive. The number of people trained in CPR, the location of automated external defibrillators and the number of people trained to use them all help determine if a community qualifies as HEARTsafe. Based on Killingly’s population, it needed 100 citizens trained in CPR.

Wakefield trained 88 of them herself.

Before finishing college with a double major in nursing and community health, Wakefield worked in the emergency room of a hospital. “I saw too many codes on people and I saw the damage done because people didn’t know what to do,” Wakefield said. “And I’ve seen the difference when people do know what to do.”

When she was still taking classes at Worcester State, Wakefield worked as an intern at the Northeast District Department of Health. She tried to get a program up and running but wasn't able to find anyone to teach the CPR classes. So when she graduated, she got herself certified as an instructor. She's been teaching ever since.

Plainfield, Thompson, Sterling and Killingly are currently the only towns in Windham County that are designated HEARTsafe communities. Wakefield's next step is to try to figure out how to get the county’s nine other towns certified, as well.

“Because six of the nine towns are so small, by number standards they only need 10 people certified in CPR and two AEDs. Those six towns are Ashford, Eastford, Hampton, Scotland, Canterbury and Pomfret,” she said. “The towns of Woodstock, Putnam and Brooklyn need 30 people each and six AEDs.”

Wakefield intends to carry on with teaching CPR. She would like to work with the NDDH to create a master list for the locations of the AEDs.

CPR certification requires the completion of a three-hour class in infant, child and adult CPR. The courses generally cost about $20. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 860-779-5390.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the DPH website, about 4,500 Connecticut residents die each year due to cardiac arrest.


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