Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation schools students via social media

PITTSBURGH: The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is using social media to educate kids about the ways they can help someone in the event of a cardiac arrest.

PITTSBURGH: The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is using social media to educate kids about the ways they can help someone in the event of a cardiac arrest.

The foundation launched its “You Can Save a Life” video contest on YouTube, as part of an initiative to promote National Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month in October. The contest invites students, from elementary school through college, to create a three- to five-minute video that raises awareness of the deadly condition.

Sudden cardiac death kills about 250,000 people—including thousands of young people—each year in the US. The national survival rate for cardiac arrest is about 6%.

“This is the second year of the contest, but on a much larger scale,” said Carissa Caramanis O'Brien, the foundation's media director who is also president of Red Box Communications. “This time, we're leveraging a lot more of the social media channels to promote it. We want to generate some viral activity and buzz around the contest.”

Aside from YouTube, those channels include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The foundation has also hired rising social media star, Jason Sadler of www.iwearyourshirt.com, who essentially sells his wardrobe for sponsorship.

During the month of October, Sadler will wear a shirt promoting sudden cardiac arrest awareness month, and make daily posts about it on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter (on which he has almost 18,000 followers) and his blog. He'll also make daily appearances on live video streaming site, UStream.tv.  “Jason has a lot of young followers who tune into his podcasts and video streams,” Caramanis O'Brien told PRWeek. “This is a very new thing, but he's a high energy guy who has the ability to get people excited about things.” 

Sadler will be one of the judges of the video contest, along with awareness advocates and student survivors of cardiac arrest, including the foundation's youth spokeswoman, Kaitlin Forbes. Some of those survivors will speak at schools and events nationwide. “We really need to reach the younger population,” said Caramanis O'Brien. “Part of our mission is to create a new generation of people who are ready, willing and able to act in the event of a cardiac arrest.”

The contest will award five schools an automated external defibrillator and CPR kits. The grand prize winner also receives a Nintendo Wii gaming system. Winners of the contest will be announced October 28, 2009, at the American School Health Association's annual conference in Denver.


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