The Central Jackson County Fire Protection District is among the top in the country for cardiac arrest survival rate and an event is scheduled Monday, May 19 to reunite survivors with the bystanders and EMS personnel who saved their lives.

An “I Survived!” ceremony will be held at the CJC Education Center, at 4715 S.W. U.S. 40 in Blue Springs. The event begins at 7 p.m. and is hosted by both CJC and Vital Heart, a program that aims to increase survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest in Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Lake Tapawingo and other areas served by the CJC.

“This is a great opportunity to recognize those citizens and first responders who were instrumental in the survival of twelve individuals,” said CJC Captain Mike Wallace in a release.

In a recent 2013 report, the district shows a cardiac arrest survival rate for primary ventricular fibrillation to be 44 percent, up from 38 percent in 2012. CJC credits its high survival rate to the initiation of CPR before EMS crews have arrived on the scene.

“You can be the best EMS service in the country, but unless you have someone start CPR early or use an automated external defibrillator before arrival, the survival rates for cardiac arrest will remain low,” said CJC Assistant Chief Paul Lininger in a release.

According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac death continues to be a leading cause of death in the United States, especically among older adults. Approximately 380,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest in the United States annually, and statistics also reveal that an estimated 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims don’t survive. Out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates are even lower. In fact, the survival rate for cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is less than 6 percent, says AHA.

“The most common cause of suddent cardiac death is a heart rhythm disorder called ventricular fibrillation,” said Lininger. “V Fib is an ‘electrical problem’ in the heart that, without immediate emergency help, death will follow. Early and aggressive chest compressions and defibrillation are critical in order to provide any chance of survival.

CJC offers free compression training – only CPR – to the public through the Vital Heart program. They also offer monthly CPR and AED classes for a small fee. For more information, visit  or call 816-229-9118.