Programs and success stories

In 2004 Allina Health developed the Heart Safe Communities Program to reduce the number of people who die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest every day. Since its inception many communities have been designated and countless lives saved. As the program continues to grow, so has our partnership. The MN Department of Health designates Cities, Counties, schools and businesses in Minnesota as Heart Safe. Check to see if your Community has been designated as Heart Safe at the MDH website. If the place you Live, Work or Play has not been designated yet, we can help make that happen!

Cub Foods

Thanks to a unique partnership between Heart Safe Communities and Cub Foods, automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are now in 77 Cub locations throughout the region.

In addition, Allina Health Emergency Medical Services has trained at least five employees from each store in AED use and basic CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Surviving sudden cardiac arrest at the grocery store: Wendell's story


The partnership between Heart Safe Communities and Cub Foods begins with the story of Wendell Mogren.

At 7 a.m. on May 11, 2006, Mogren, 62, was out for a walk in his New Brighton, Minnesota, neighborhood. Halfway through, he stopped at a nearby Cub Foods store.

"I usually get a cup of coffee or a drink of water and keep walking," says Mogren. "That morning, my heart stopped right there in the store, and I passed out in Aisle 15."

A bakery worker spotted the unconscious Mogren and called a Code Blue.

Cub employees dialed 911, and department manager Patrick Darling began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

"I wasn't breathing," says Mogren. "I had no pulse."

He had suffered sudden cardiac arrest, a medical emergency when your chance of surviving drops 50 percent within the first five minutes.

Luckily, a New Brighton police vehicle happened to be nearby. The officers who responded to the 911 call restarted Mogren's heart using an automatic external defibrillator (AED) that Allina Health Heart Safe Communities had purchased and placed in their squad car four years earlier.

"AEDs are one of the most effective treatments for someone in sudden cardiac arrest," says Katie Manship, Heart Safe Communities project coordinator. Since 2001, the program has helped place more than 850 AEDs in police and fire vehicles, schools, community buildings, churches and businesses throughout Minnesota.

Minutes after police officers shocked Mogren's heart back to life, Sarah Wahto and Joe Johnson, Allina Medical Transportation paramedics, arrived. They stabilized Mogren and brought him to the hospital.

First to go 'in the deep freeze'
At Unity Hospital in Fridley, Minnesota, Mogren was placed in a temporary coma while his body was cooled to 91 degrees Fahrenheit, using a new device called an Arctic Sun. In fact, Mogren was Unity's first patient to undergo the procedure.

"We were in the final stages of developing protocols for the Arctic Sun when we learned Mr. Mogren was en route to Unity," says Steven Hanovich, MD, of Unity's Intensive Care Unit. "Our team believed he was a good candidate for induced hypothermia because he had a witnessed cardiac arrest and minimal past medical history."

After about 24 hours "in the deep freeze," Mogren's temperature was slowly raised, and he was woken from his coma.

"My cardiac arrest was on a Thursday, and the first thing I really remember was Monday morning," Mogren says.

Stent surgery
An angiogram determined that Mogren needed a coronary stent to improve blood flow through his arteries. He was transported to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, where he received a stent the following day.

"After that, I started feeling more like myself," he says.

Good fortune and a unique partnership
Mogren is awed by his good fortune. Only five percent of patients who experience sudden cardiac arrest survive.

"If I'd passed out in the store parking lot, I'd probably be dead now," he says. "Instead, I made it inside, store workers called 911, the manager knew CPR, the police had an AED, the ambulance came right away, and the hospital was just amazing."

"This incident really shows the difference having access to an AED can make," adds Manship of Heart Safe Communities. "It wasn't long before Allina Health and Cub were talking about how to make sure this life-saving technology was available to all Cub shoppers."

Every day is a gift
Two months before his cardiac arrest, Mogren had retired after working 43 years as a pipefitter. "I can't say it's been the retirement I was expecting," says the father and grandfather. "But I feel fully recovered. I'm back to walking my regular route.

"I'm doing well now. For me and my wife, we feel every day is a gift."

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport

In 2002, emergency teams responded to more than 2,000 medical calls at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, many of them cardiac related. In 2003, 65 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were installed throughout the main airport complex and surrounding airport locations.

Their installation and maintenance is the result of a partnership among United Hospital Fund, Allina Health Emergency Medical Services, the Medtronic Foundation, Minneapolis Airport Foundation and the Metropolitan Airport Commission Fire Department.

Source: Allina Hospitals & Clinics, mission, volume 1, issue 3 (Nov./Dec. 2006); American Heart Association
Reviewed By: Charles Lick, MD, medical director, Allina Health Emergency Medical Services
First Published: 02/19/2007
Last Reviewed: 02/19/2007