CCM Employees Honored for Saving Lives with CPR

American Heart Association Recognizes Staff Members for Strengthening the Chain of Survival – Posted 6/21/16

Forty-one individuals and organizations in New Jersey were recently honored at the American Heart Association 2016 New Jersey American Heartsaver Awards for their life-saving efforts. Included among them were three County College of Morris (CCM) employees who assisted with saving the life of another staff member.

David Ackerman, of Morris Plains, a security officer at CCM, came to the aid of Joan Cunningham, of North Caldwell, then dean of the Division of Health and Natural Sciences, when she suffered a heart attack during a meeting at the college, collapsing and becoming unconscious. First, Dr. Dwight Smith, of Randolph, vice president of Academic Affairs, responded by starting immediate CPR as soon as he saw Cunningham collapse. Soon after, Ackerman, along with Security Sergeant Charles Munk, of Hackettstown, rushed to the scene prepared with an AED in hand. Ackerman and Munk applied the AED which administered a shock. Soon after, the ambulance squad, paramedics and police arrived and Cunningham was transported to the hospital.

The American Heart Association’s American Heartsaver Awards is held annually to commend individuals, organizations and schools throughout the Garden State for taking extraordinary steps to strengthen the American Heart Association Chain of Survival or for rescue efforts that saved a life of someone experiencing a cardiac emergency.

The awards ceremony was held earlier this month at the Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness in Mercerville.

The Chain of Survival is only as strong as its weakest link. The American Heart Association Chain of Survival is a critical five-step process that can mean the difference between life and death for someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack or stroke, as well as other medical emergencies such as choking and drowning. The five critical steps or “links” in the Chain of Survival include:

Link # 1: Early Access (know the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke and call 9-1-1 immediately)
Link # 2: Early Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Link # 3: Early Defibrillation
Link # 4: Early Advanced Care
Link # 5: Integrated Post-Cardiac Arrest Care.

Nearly 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10 percent survive. Given immediately, CPR doubles or triples survival rates and executing the Chain of Survival can save thousands of lives annually.

The American Heartsaver Recognition Program is an initiative supporting the American Heart Association’s efforts to strengthen the Chain of Survival to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans while reducing death and disability from heart disease and stroke by 20 percent by the year 2020.

Anyone can learn CPR and everyone should. Visit for a short instructional video that could help save a life.

About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association.

To learn more or to get involved, call 609.208.0020 or visit

Photo: David Ackerman and Charles Munk from County College of Morris (CCM) recently were presented with American Heartsaver Awards from the American Heart Association. Also presented with an award was Dr. Dwight Smith, CCM’s vice president of Academic Affairs.