One of the most important aspects of public health is sharing effective, creative ideas with other public health agencies so more people can benefit from what we learn.  Each year the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials highlights really good programs with their Vision Awards.  This year, they selected 2 from Arizona to share at the annual conference next month. 

Our Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease will be receiving an award for our initiative to help people with a mental illness to quit smoking.  We’ve been working with our ASHLine staff to train people that work at 53 behavioral health clinics to do warm handoffs to our ASHLine with great success.  Clinic staff learned to ask people if they’re interested in quitting tobacco, advising them of the health benefits, and referring them to our successful quitline.  In the 1st year the program saw a quit rate equal to the general population.  Before the program, only 75 referrals came from the behavioral health community – after the trainings, the number skyrocketed to 3,000!    

Our Bureau of EMS and Trauma System earned its second Vision award – this one for the extraordinary program developed to help dispatchers prompt callers to start CPR quickly.  Cardiac arrest kills about 350,000 people every year, but if a bystander promptly starts CPR, the chances of survival can double or triple.  The important thing is for the dispatcher to feel confident in directing the caller to do CPR- so we created a dispatcher academy with training and help to change their process.  After the program started, the rate of life-saving telephone assisted bystander CPR jumped from 29% to 50%.  The program is estimated to save about 400 lives every year in just AZ- and if other states pick up the program, it could be as many as 19,000 lives each year in the U.S.