WPS executive joins American Heart Association in asking Legislature to pass CPR bill

MADISON, Wis.—Feb. 9, 2018—Scott Kowalski, Executive Vice President of WPS Health Insurance, was among American Heart Association supporters who met with Wisconsin lawmakers on Jan. 30 to endorse a bill aimed at saving lives.

Assembly Bill 654 would ensure that callers to 911 dispatch centers could obtain coaching over the phone on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Kowalski, who is a stroke survivor and currently is vice chair of the board for the AHA in Madison, noted that not all 911 dispatchers are trained to provide CPR coaching over the phone.

“This is critical, because a person’s chance of survival falls 10% with every minute that passes between cardiac arrest and the start of CPR.”

Scott Kowalski, Executive Vice President of WPS Health Insurance

In Wisconsin, more than 6,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, and CPR by bystanders is administered in only about 19% of those cases, according to the AHA.

AB 654 passed unanimously out of the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety in January. On Jan. 30, more than 60 advocates asked lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate to support the bill and ensure its passage this session. Those attending the action day at the Capitol included cardiac-arrest survivors, concerned citizens, first responders, and medical professionals.

“Seconds matter when someone suffers cardiac arrest. This legislation is a common-sense measure that empowers 911 dispatchers in Wisconsin to take every lifesaving measure on the phone, as first responders are en route to the patient,” said Mary Jo Gordon, chair of AHA’s Wisconsin Advocacy Committee and cardiac-arrest survivor.

Under the bill, every public safety answering point must either have dispatchers certified in CPR and trained to provide phone instruction on administering CPR or transfer callers to a phone center that will provide the caller with assistance on administering CPR.

To learn more about cardiovascular issues, please visit yourethecure.org.