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HeartSafe Haven


February 2015

On Oct. 17, 2013, the unimaginable happened to Jeff and Amy Schoen of Grafton. Their 10-year-old son, Grant, died of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). According to Jeff, Grant wasnít feeling well and stayed home from school that day. Grant took a nap, and when Jeff went to check on him, he found his son wasnít breathing. Jeff immediately called 911.

"We didnít know what happened at the time," says Jeff. "Something had caused his heart to stop."

It wasnít until February that an autopsy and toxicology report revealed that Grant had died of SCA. Jeff did some research and found out that other kids in the community had died of similar circumstances, so he decided to do something to prevent other families from having to go through a similar tragedy.

"I came up with this idea of having a HeartSafe Wiscsonsin, an initiative in which communities, as a whole, are certified to deal with a witnessed cardiac emergency," explains Jeff.

The HeartSafe Community initiative started more than 10 years ago with two doctors in Massachusetts. Jeffís goal by the end of 2015 or early 2016 is to have Cedarburg and Grafton be the first communities in Wisconsin to have the HeartSafe certification.

According to Jeff, there are four important components to getting the certification. The first is to have 10 percent of the two communities (approximately 4,000 residents) be CPR trained. The other three deal with 911 dispatch, EMS and hospital responses.

"Itís time consuming and requires a lot of volunteers, plus CPR certification expires every two years, so itís pretty much a full-time job to keep the population CPR trained," says Jeff.

Helping the Schoen family in this cause is Mike LaRosa, a CPR training officer for the Cedarburg Fire Department with more than 10 years of experience.

"I talked to Jeff about a year ago, and he expressed his interest in doing something where we got people educated in CPR training and the use of AEDs (automated external defibrillators)," says LaRosa.

He believes the Cedarburg and Grafton communities will be the first in the state to achieve the designation because the Schoen family wanted to do something positive with the grief of losing Grant.

"Jeff has made this a mission as part of Grantís legacy," said LaRosa. "Itís a wonderful thing for the community."

For more information on this initiative and how you can get involved, visit


This story ran in the February 2015 issue of: