FLORIDA -- This town is known for its turnips, the Whitcomb Summit, and it soon may be known for its windmills. But this week, the town can add another claim to fame to its list -- it's a HeartSafe Community.
The town of Florida will be honored Thursday night by the Western Massachusetts Emergency Medical Services Committee Inc., because it has been designated a HeartSafe Community. This means that should a person have a sudden cardiac arrest in Florida, they'll be offered the best chance to survive.
Florida is the only community in Northern Berkshire County to be designated, and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the town's fire station, Stephen Cote of the Western Mass. EMS will present the town with a certificate, a plaque, and road signage denoting the community's HeartSafe status.
Cote said the HeartSafe Community Program was designed to encourage cities and towns across the commonwealth to strengthen what the American Heart Association calls the "chain of survival," which is early access to emergency care, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced care.
"What we've done is to make it almost a competition, not against each other but against themselves to improve, and a big 'Atta boy' when they do accomplish it so it gives them some bragging rights," said Cote.
The program is a partnership with the state Department of Public Health, through its Office of Emergency Medical Services and the American Heart Association.
Last year, an initiative was sent out to all Massachusetts communities, encouraging them to meet the challenge or to let the Western Mass. EMS know if they've already reached it, Cote said. A second contact was sent out this past summer.
"Florida is one town that was going to do this anyway, with or without this designation, so they get the bragging rights for having done the job," he added.
In Berkshire County, only Lee and Lenox join Florida as HeartSafe Communities.
Cote said Florida completed its requirements when it acquired new, automated external defibrillators last spring.
"The qualifications are graded by population," he said. "Some of the tiniest villages we've got in the state can actually qualify be having massive citizen CPR courses because that is the first link in that chain of survival."
According to the American Heart Association, only about 5 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive, but a strong chain of survival can increase that survival rate to 20 percent or more, which would save at least 40,000 lives each year.