BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling the American Heart Association which has grown into the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke.
WBZ Cares is featuring the American Heart Association and the work the organization does on a local level. WBZ‘s Shari Small met with one local family whose personal struggle with heart disease has led them to advocacy work in Massachusetts. With the help of the American Heart Association, they're working to make schools safer through CPR training.
“It was completely out of the blue. I'm at home. I have a phone call from her school saying your daughter’s collapsed, you need to get here,” said Joe Quigley.
Joe Quigley’s daughter Olivia was just 6 years old when, with no prior warning signs, she suffered a cardiac arrest at her school.
“I walked in just as the EMT’s are using the defibrillator to restart her heart. My 6-year-old daughter, for all intents and purposes, is lying on the gym floor, dead. As a parent, obviously, it’s heart wrenching. You’re completely and utterly destroyed,” said Quigley.
If it wasn't for two teachers jumping in and performing CPR, Olivia likely would not be here today.
“One of the doctors came up to me and actually said, ‘If those teachers had not perform CPR on your daughter she just wouldn't be here. There's no question about that’. So the importance of CPR is major and it's major in our lives,” Quigley stated.
When Olivia was released from the hospital, Joe received a phone call from the American Heart Association.
“It's like having a newborn child. You don't know what to do. That call changed my life,” said Quigley.
Executive Director of the Boston market Jay Blackwell says the Heart Association is working on CPR legislation in Massachusetts.
“Organizationally we have a priority of getting it as a high school graduation requirement, but because Massachusetts is a commonwealth, we have to go community by community. And so we have a CPR program where we are trying to create communities of lifesavers,” Blackwell said.
Now at age 17, Olivia and her dad, with the help of the Heart Association, advocate for school CPR training and defibrillation placement laws.
“The American Heart Association gave us the support that we needed, guided myself and Olivia, my daughter, to advocacy work within the American Heart Association. It also gave us the opportunity to meet other parents and it gave us a network. A network of people that had been through what we were going through, and that support alone was worth a million dollars if I could put a price tag on it,” Quigley concluded.
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Shari Small Reports