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Saving Hearts This Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2021

Thanks to the donation of an AED (automated external defibrillator) from the student org Cardiac on Campus, College Library is now home to one of these life-saving devices. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year than by acknowledging this wonderful, heart-affirming gift!

Andreas Kyrvasilis, the co-president of Cardiac on Campus, provided some history of this non-profit organization. It was founded in 2016 by Brittany Derynda and Jessie Miller, two cousins who were then UW-Madison students. The organization was established in memory of Jon Derynda, Brittany’s 20 year-old brother. Jon was a healthy college student who collapsed and died after running a half marathon with his family in 2015.

According to Andreas, one of the primary goals of Cardiac on Campus is to raise heart-health awareness among students and the general Madison community. They do this, he says, by hosting “a big annual fundraiser called The Red Tutu Trot 5K.” Due to the pandemic, this year’s Red Tutu Trot was held virtually, with participants running on their own. Even with this challenge, the group had nearly 200 participants from 17 different states join them in raising $12,000. This money allows Cardiac on Campus to fund their two primary active community initiatives: donating AEDs to the Madison community and providing free CPR/AED certification classes.

Since its founding, Cardiac on Campus has donated six AEDs to the following locations: Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall, Chadbourne Residence Hall, Witte Residence Hall, Porchlight, Inc., the Neighborhood House Community Center (on Mills Street in Madison), and now College Library. They will be donating several more AEDs this semester, with the next one to be installed at the Frank Holt Center on campus. This organization also offers free CPR/AED certification courses to anyone interested. Andreas proudly confirms that they “teach the official American Heart Association course free of charge, and since its founding our group has CPR certified over 600 people.”

He continues with some sobering statistics, “The truth is that when it comes to sudden cardiac events, minutes can be the difference between life and death. Research shows that a person’s chances of survival decrease by 10% every sixty seconds after the event, and only 1 in 10 individuals survive a sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital if no one intervenes before the paramedics arrive. This number increases to 30% with bystander CPR, and 50% with bystander CPR and the use of an AED. Unfortunately, with only six out of twenty-one residence halls equipped with an AED, our campus is one of the only Big 10 schools without this life-saving equipment in every dorm and many other frequently used buildings. That is why we have made it our goal to place an AED in every residence hall, work with campus leadership to increase the availability of AEDs, and CPR certify as many people as possible.”

Due to COVID-19 the CPR classes are currently limited. However, anyone interested in getting certified for free is encouraged to e-mail the group at cardiaconcampus@rso.wisc.edu. Cardiac on Campus hopes to open classes back up to the general public later this semester or in the fall at the latest. If you are interested in getting involved or supporting Cardiac on Campus, please find more information on their website at: www.cardiaconcampus.com.

The library’s AED is located on the first floor, prominently positioned on the wall between the women’s and the gender-inclusive restroom. College Library would like to thank Andreas and all of those involved with Cardiac on Campus for making the commitment to saving lives and for their generosity in placing AEDs in campus buildings.