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Harvard Designated as HEARTSafe Campus

By Ahab Chopra and Ashley M. Cooper, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: March 21, 2018 at 8:30 p.m.

Harvard College was recognized as a HEARTSafe Campus at an annual conference dedicated to emergency medical services last month.

February's designation came after CrimsonEMS—a student-run emergency medical services organization—worked for two years to expand and improve cardiac safety measures on campus. The National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation determined that Harvard has successfully reached the necessary 5 percent threshold of CPR-trained individuals on campus required to receive the designation. CrimsonEMS also worked to provide more accessible Automated External Defibrillators and public trainings.

According to their website, NCEMSF intends to “recognize quality campus based EMS organizations and their communities and hold them out as examples to other campuses as a means to improve overall cardiac arrest care.”

CrimsonEMS began working towards the HEARTSafe designation in the spring of 2016 after learning about it at a NCEMSF conference. Former Development Chief Sophia M. Emmons-Bell ’18 spearheaded the initiative.

By the fall of 2016, CrimsonEMS began hosting classes for clubs and organizations like HealthPals and the Freshman Outdoor Program.

Chief of CrimsonEMS Cynthia Y. Luo ’19 said the group has worked hard to expand their programming.

“We’ve been doing outreach initiatives including getting into ‘brain breaks’ for freshmen," Luo said. "We’ve tabled in the Science Center. We tried going into different Houses. We were just trying as many different ways to get that information out."

To be considered a HEARTSafe campus, EMS organizations have to inform and educate the public about best practices when it comes to being a first responder.

As it worked toward the designation, CrimsonEMS regularly conducted 10-minute hands-only compression sessions for the general public. While these sessions were not as extensive as the four-hour American Heart Association CPR Classes CrimsonEMS also offered, the shorter time span increased community engagement.

They led several of these 10-minute sessions during February’s Heart Health Awareness Month.

“We had families come by, parents really encouraging their kids. Seventy people came by and were excited to learn and demonstrate they talked to us,” Sienna R. Nielsen ’19, who does community outreach for the organization, said.

Over the span of two-and-a-half years, Crimson EMS was able to train 5 percent of the student body.

“It was kind of like little bits and little bits and this designation is kind of just a recognition of that accumulating over time,” Emmons-Bell said.

CrimsonEMS members said the group will continue to train more people, since they must renew their HEARTSafe designation every two years.

“We’re definitely not ramping down,” Emmons-Bell said. “On the logistical side, we need to maintain 5 percent of people but it’s cool that we can expand from this point onward.”

—Staff writer Ahab Chopra can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ahab_chopra

—Staff writer Ashley M. Cooper can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ashleymcooper_

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