Published on January 12, 2018

Reading Hospital to Celebrate HeartSAFE and Honor Heart Heroes on January 16

On Tuesday, January 16, Reading Hospital will celebrate the 7th anniversary of HeartSAFE Berks County and will present Heart Hero Awards to a nurse and two police officers who recently helped save a man's life using CPR and an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). The event will be held at Stokesay Castle during the monthly Chief of Police meeting, with the awards being presented at noon.

HeartSAFE Berks County is an initiative launched by Reading Hospital and The Friends of Reading Hospital to increase the people's chance of survival from sudden cardiac death. Since its inception, HeartSAFE has helped place more than 550 AEDs across Berks County, including with first responders in most communities, in schools, and in public places such as FirstEnergy Stadium, Santander Arena, malls, colleges and at numerous non-profits.

At the January 16 event, Walter Petroski, who experienced a sudden cardiac arrest at the Wyomissing Farmers Market, will present the Heart Hero Awards to a nurse, who was nearby and began CPR, and to Wyomissing police officers Sergeant John Phillips and Officer Matthew Cavallo, who used an AED at the scene to revive Mr. Petroski's heart.

AEDs are portable devices that can detect if someone's heart has stopped and can deliver electrical shocks that help the person's heart return to its normal rhythm. Time is the most important element in a sudden cardiac death, so having an AED readily available means the person can receive AED shocks before EMS arrival.

Mr. Petroski is one of many local people whose life has been saved by use of an AED. In July 2017, Berks County resident Jeffery East suffered a serious heart attack at his home. Reading Fire Department first responders were able to revive his heart, because they were equipped with an AED.

Walter Petroski and Jeffery East are willing to share their stories publicly to spread the word about heart disease and the ways that CPR and AEDs help save lives.