Cheryl Rickens, RN, BSN, and Nora Helfrich co-chair the Pittsburgh-based Western Pennsylvania Chapter. Cheryl is a registered nurse and EMS specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who provides support in AED training and awareness, and hopes to further her efforts in developing community PAD programs. Nora, the director of the Tri-Community South Emergency Medical Service, is combining her efforts to bring greater awareness to the need for AEDs, emergency medical and life support training, and expanding community education and outreach efforts across the greater Pittsburgh area.
On October 3, 2009, The University of Pittsburgh held at the Peterson Events Center the first-ever Basketball Fan Fest and Maggie Dixon Heart Health Fair. More than 1,600 fans attended the free event. The festivities were held in honor of the late Maggie Dixon, sister of the Pitt men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon. Maggie Dixon, coach of the women's basketball team at Army, was only 28 when she died of an enlarged heart in April 2006. Agnus Berenato, head coach of the Pitt women's basketball team, spoke highly of Dixon. She said "Maggie Dixon was a vivacious, young and wonderful woman who portrayed great leadership." She also said that many people believe that breast cancer is the number one killer of women, but they don't realize that it is actually heart disease.
Jamie Dixon said combining the Panthers' Fan Fest with the Maggie Dixon Healthy Heart Fair was an opportunity to, "add more to the event and for the university to give back and reach out to the community, the fans, and the students." Attendees had the opportunity to receive free health screenings, obtain free CPR and AED training, and to see educational heart health displays. SCAA's Western Pennsylvania Chapter hosted a booth at the event and had multimedia to provide information about SCAA, SCA in athletes, and SCA survivor stories. Informational packets and brochures were also handed out. Additionally, with SCAA and Tri-Community EMS, there was a CPR-AED awareness and demo area where the AHA CPR Anytime concept was demonstrated along with AED demos. Several Pittsburgh area media outlets provided coverage of the event.
Because AED's Were Immediately on Hand, Two More Lives Have Been Saved
November 25, 2009:
In the story SCAA Medical Director Dr. Vince Mosesso is quoted saying "We know from some large-scale studies in the U.S. and Canada that if use of an AED that is right on site, and in the first few minutes of collapse, survival can be double or triple what it would be otherwise,".
Robert Lewandowski collapsed in the parking lot of the business where he worked. Because the business had an AED, and has had one for six years, two off duty firefighters were able to use it to bring him back to life. Carol Lewis had the same fortune. She passed out in her kitchen and her children called 911. Two volunteer firefighters who lived in the neighborhood heard the 911 call and responded. The firefighters brought with them one of four AED's the Homeowners Association had purchased and used it to bring her back to life.
After the death of his sister Maggie due to sudden cardiac arrest, Jamie Dixon, Men's Basketball Coach at the University of Pittsburgh, continues to advocate for awareness. SCAA Western Pennsylvania Chapter participated in the Maggie Dixon Heart Awareness Fair held this past October.