Meridian Health and American Heart Association Introduce Community of Life Savers

Contact:Robert Cavanaugh, Manager of Public Affairs for Meridian Health
Phone:(732) 751-3451

Meridian Health and American Heart Association Introduce Community of Life Savers

When people are equipped with the skills to perform CPR, survival rate can double or even triple

Cardiac arrest is more common than one might think. It can happen to anyone at any time, including our youth. In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that there are approximately 100 student athlete fatalities each year from sudden cardiac arrest.

While the incidence remains low, the impact on families and the surrounding community is tremendous. No one is more aware of this fact than Charlie and Beth Melita of Fair Haven, who lost their son, Robert, a 2009 graduate of Rumson-Fair Haven High School, to cardiac arrest in 2012. Unfortunately, Charlie and Beth are not alone in their grief. Several other families in Monmouth and Ocean counties and across the state have lost children to this tragic occurrence.

That's why Meridian Health has partnered with the American Heart Association in a landmark, multi-year initiative to create a Community of Life Savers. When everyday people are equipped with the skills to perform CPR, survival rates can double or even triple.

"Robert was an active young man and a part of so many lives," said Timothy J. Hogan, Regional Hospital President for Monmouth County. "We are so grateful that Charlie and Beth's journey, in dealing with loss of their son, has led them to be part of Meridian's Community of Life Savers, which aims to prevent similar tragedies from taking young lives."

Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency and if not treated immediately, causes sudden cardiac death. The symptoms are immediate and drastic including sudden collapse, no pulse, no breathing, and loss of consciousness. The good news is that with fast, appropriate medical care, survival is possible.

Cardiac arrest is fatal because all too often, those who experience it at home, work, or in a public setting don't receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene.

"Our goal is to train at least 5,000 Monmouth and Ocean county high school students in the first year," said Dawn Calderon, D.O., chief of Cardiology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. "This program is offered at no cost to schools or students."

In addition, to help schools comply with Janet's Law and to build a sustainable CPR training infrastructure, Meridian will train staff from each school district as a CPR Instructor, enabling them to train additional teachers, administrators and students in their district.

"Learning CPR and how to use an AED can give you the power to save a life; and could give others the power to save your life," added Calderon.

About Meridian Health

Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and outpatient centers. Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For", and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence. For more information, please visit