Awareness Du Jour

CPR/AED Awareness Week is underway. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a very easy lifesaving technique that helps pump blood through the body when the heart stops beating.  An automated external defibrillator (AED) is an automated device that assesses the heartbeat of a patient and then delivers a life-saving shock, if needed.  If someone is in cardiac arrest, this is the only device that can save him or her. Everyone needs to know CPR and every public venue should have an AED. Why? Because sudden cardiac arrest is the #1 cause of death of adults in this country, as well as the #1 cause of death of student athletes.

Today, I’m heading to Las Vegas to present at the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update. I’m excited to introduce the attendees to Screen Across America, a consortium of organizations dedicated to providing youth heart screenings. It will also be a great chance to meet some real heroes.

However, I have to ask, what’s up with all of these dedicated weeks and months? According to Wikipedia, there are fifty-one different causes that have a dedicated month pursuant to a Presidential proclamation.  That’s an average of over four per month. This doesn’t take into account the self proclaimed months.

Take the heart for example.  In addition to this week, February is National Heart Month and October hosts Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month.  Are we really better off because we have nine weeks dedicated to various aspects of heart disease?  Put another way, how receptive would your friends be if they had to observe your birthday for nine weeks?  I’m pretty sure that you’d be having a lot of lonely meals and tons of leftover birthday cake.

Sometimes less is more, particularly when it comes to engaging a public that lives largely in denial about a topic as grave disease and death.

Why don’t we shed ownership to some of these days and focus on a few very special and impactful days?  How about we pick February 10, smack in the middle of Heart Month, to teach CPR to 100,000 students?  What if February 16 becomes Donate an AED Day, and we collectively donate 10,000 AEDs to schools.  Let’s not forget February 25, when all of the AED manufacturers discount their product and have the Biggest Sale of the Year!

Let’s learn from the best marketers in the world – retailers. There is a reason that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all scheduled so closely together.

I am confident that simplifying our message and consolidating our efforts will raise more awareness and dispense more life-saving equipment than can ever do over our nine weeks.  We’ll also do the public a favor by not distracting them from North American Inclusion Month (February), Caribbean-American Heritage Month (June) and National Arts & Humanities Month (October) (and you know there are more).

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