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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Works...

RHINEBECK — An advocacy organization is searching for the people who saved a woman's life Monday at the Beekman Arms.

Linda Cotter-Forbes, co-founder and director of the Heart Safe Club of Rhinebeck, said her organization wants to thank the three customers who used an automated external defibrillator to aid a woman having sudden cardiac arrest.

"It was around 1 p.m.," said Denise Cvijanovich, the tavern's assistant manager. "It was busy. Our greenhouse area was full."

Cvijanovich said the unidentified woman, who she described as "older," was seated for lunch in the greenhouse room with a couple of her friends.

"Suddenly, one of the customers came over to the desk saying another customer had passed out and to call 911," Cvijanovich said.

The woman appeared to be having cardiac arrest.

"At that point, a man asked if we had a defibrillator, which we do," Cvijanovich said.

The automated external defibrillator, or AED, a portable electronic device used to restore normal heart rhythm, had been donated to the restaurant by the Heart Safe Club, with funding from the Rhinebeck Rotary Club a few years ago.

Cvijanovich said the man and two other customers, one who said she was a nurse, first conducted compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the woman. They then used the AED.

"They definitely knew what they were doing," Cvijanovich said.

The woman began regular breathing again about 10 minutes later, Cvijanovich said, shortly before an ambulance arrived from Northern Dutchess Hospital.

Friends, who later returned to thank restaurant staff, reported that the woman was stable at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, she said.

"They said her prognosis was good," Cvijanovich said.

The longtime Beekman Arms employee said it was the first time the AED had been used at the restaurant.

"I was thrilled to hear that not only did someone use the skills of cardiopulmonary resuscitation to save someone's life but they used an AED donated by the heart club, which was instrumental in saving the woman's life," Cotter-Forbes told the Journal Monday evening.

The Heart Safe Club of Rhinebeck was founded shortly after Cotter-Forbes' daughter, Kaitlin, had a sudden cardiac arrest while playing softball at Rhinebeck High School in 2006. She was 15 years old at the time.

"Our main objective is to provide low-cost CPR and AED training," she said, adding that the moments following a sudden cardiac arrest are crucial.

"This highlights the importance of people not only learning the skills of CPR, (but) it also emphasizes the importance of public access to AEDs," she said.

To the unidentified heroes who used the AED to save the woman, Cotter-Forbes said, "We want to find out who they are and thank them."

To contact the Heart Safe Club of Rhinebeck, visit them on Facebook, or send an email to

Statistics from Survivors

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation's efforts in support of The Joint Commission on SCA initiatives have been significant. The Joint Commission today released a monograph, "Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Meeting the Challenge," related to this work. You can download the study from:

Here are some highlights from this examination of the survivor database:
• About one-third of survivors (35%) are less than 40-years-old
• Most (71%) had no prior knowledge of heart disease
• Most received CPR from a bystander (73%)--predominantly from family members or friends (30%) or from strangers (29%)
• Less than one-third (28%) were treated with mild therapeutic hypothermia
• Most (72%) received implantable cardioverter defibrillators
• Most (71%) returned to their previous level of functioning.

You can learn more about the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation at

Isn't it amazing what you learn when you have data to analyze?