PROVIDENCE – The American Heart Association has awarded House Deputy Majority Whip Mia Ackerman of District 45, Cumberland and Lincoln, with its Distinguished Service Award for her leadership in legislation that improves over-the-phone CPR instructions by 911 operators.

Ackerman sponsored a law enacted this year establishing an emergency telephone system call review and quality improvement, requiring that all 911 system operators to be trained in telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“I am so honored to receive this award, and so proud to have sponsored this legislation,” said Ackerman in a statement. “911 operators are the real first responders and can make the difference between life and death. I appreciate the hard work done by everybody involved in getting the legislation passed.”

The legislation comes in the wake of incidents where bystanders were unable to perform CPR due to a lack of instructions from 911 dispatch. In 2018, Rena Fleury, a 45-year-old woman, died after she went into cardiac arrest at a Cumberland High School football game. The 911 call takers failed to recognize that Fleury was having a cardiac arrest, and they failed to provide CPR instructions over the phone.

“We can’t thank Rep. Ackerman enough for all of her hard work on this lifesaving legislation,” said Megan Tucker, government relations director and regional lead of the American Heart Association in Providence. “T-CPR will save lives in Rhode Island, and we are thrilled to recognize Rep. Ackerman for her outstanding achievement in passing this lifesaving law.”

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