The American Heart Association’s Approach to Advocacy
We advocate for federal, state and local policies that help to build healthier lives and communities, focusing on legislative and regulatory priorities that help to prevent heart disease and stroke risk factors and protect survivors across the state.
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Advocacy In Action!
Ray Henderson and his wife, Norma, never felt the need to get CPR training until he suffered a massive heart attack that left him without a pulse for 45 minutes. The 57-year-old teacher at Rio Rancho High School dropped to the ground in their three-story home and quickly turned blue. Norma called 911, but the emergency line was down, so she started performing CPR on her husband. It was 33 minutes before she could connect to a 911 operator and paramedics arrived at their home to restore his pulse.
On the way to the hospital, Ray flatlined three times. Once at the hospital, his last rites were read with his wife and family by his side. “I was dead. I was dead,” Ray recalled, sitting at his office desk in a corner of his classroom. “My wife saved my life. There’s no other explanation. She performed CPR on me for 33 minutes. I had no pulse, but it was helping pump oxygen into my organs. That kept me alive.”
After more than six months of arduous physical therapy and recovery, Ray returned to his classroom (now decked out with well wishes and messages from his students) and his DECA duties with a new vision and focus – teaching his students the importance of CPR and training them in how to perform CPR. DECA Inc, formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America, prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.
He started off with training 16 of his DECA students last October with assistance from Albuquerque AHA staff, the Project Heart Start and local fire officials. Since that initial training, Ray and his team have implemented a train the trainer model, training nearly 1,000 Rio Rancho High School students in CPR since last October. “We want to do hands-on CPR, Heimlich and defibrillator training for our students,” Ray says proudly. “It was vital that AHA helped us with the CPR training and provided educational materials.” When polled, the students in Ray’s DECA class ranked CPR as an important life-saving training everyone should receive and have strongly recommended CPR training for their family members and friends.
Ray was especially thankful for the help he received from Albuquerque AHA Executive Director Terri Archibeque, Community Impact Director Josh Martinez and Communications Director Davida Hollis. Asked if he ever thought of taking a CPR training before his brush with the death, Ray said, “That was not on my mind at all, but everyone should know it and think about it. Now that I survived, I want to give it back.”
Historic Advocacy Victories in New Mexico
2010 Increased the tobacco tax to help reduce smoking rates.
2014 Enacted statewide standards for recognition of hospitals certified to provide specialty care for stroke and heart attacks.
2014 Helped pass a bill that requires all newborns be tested for Critical Congenital Heart Defects after birth.
2016 Passed legislation requiring all high school graduates to be trained in CPR before graduating.
2019 Passed a complete streets policy in Albuquerque to ensure that all road construction projects keep all users in mind.
You can help us achieve even more advocacy victories to make New Mexico a healthier place to live, work, and play! Join the You're the Cure Network today and let your voice be heard!