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State agency touts program to reduce heart attack deaths

PHOENIX – An Arizona Department of Health Services program that aims to reduce heart attack deaths celebrated its first participants Monday as well as a life saved.

The department’s SHARE (Save Hearts in Arizona Registry & Education) Program recognized “HEART Safe” organizations that have training and equipment in place to respond to cardiac arrest.

The staff at the Arizona Supreme Court, which was honored, had completed training about a month before Kathy Sekardi experienced sudden cardiac arrest on Aug 1.

“Nine out of 10 people who go through what she did don’t make it to the hospital alive,” said Kathy’s husband, Brian. “If it weren’t for the CPR performed by her co-workers and if it weren’t for the AED (automated external defibrillator), she wouldn’t have made it.”

At a ceremony held to recognize groups that have earned the HEART Safe designation, which lasts for two years, Dr. Ben Bobrow, medical director of the department’s Bureau of EMS and Trauma Systems, said 15 people each day in Arizona suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

“The key first chain in the link of survival is the public; the public has to be willing and able to respond,” he added.

Brenda Lee Dominguez, a legal specialist at the Arizona Supreme Court, responded to a call for CPR, and found Sekardi unresponsive on the floor. Dominguez started doing hands-only, continuous chest compressions.

“I just started saying the Lord’s Prayer and just kept repeating it over and over,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez said while a series of miracles helped save Sekardi’s life, the HEART Safe project deserves credit too.

“Kathy wouldn’t be with us, and we would’ve lost an amazing person,” Dominguez said. “That can be your son, it can be your daughter, it could be your mom, and why lose someone when you’ve got something in your hands where you can be certified or get training and save a life?”