About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation

History | Values | Board of Directors | Advisory Council
Staff and Support | Founding Members | Biographical Sketches

About Us

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (EIN 43-2093206). Our mission is to “raise awareness and support programs that give ‘ordinary’ people the power to save a life.” We work to raise awareness about the prevention and treatment of sudden cardiac arrest, including post-resuscitation care. 

What Sets Us Apart

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation has:

  • A clear vision that survival from sudden cardiac arrest can and must become the norm, rather than the exception
  • A conviction that sudden cardiac arrest can often be prevented
  • Strong leadership by board members and advisory council members who are experts in the field
  • Dedicated staff and volunteers, many of whom have been working together since the organization’s inception in 2006
  • An organizational structure and effective strategies that minimize overhead costs
  • A large and committed membership that is growing steadily.

What We Do

We are a mission-driven organization, dedicated exclusively to raising awareness and saving lives threatened by sudden cardiac arrest. Descriptions of our key initiatives follow.

Website: Our website, www.sca-aware.org, is a comprehensive information clearinghouse on sudden cardiac arrest. Tens of thousands of users visit the site each month. Its high rankings in Google searches attract the media, individuals affected by cardiac arrest, researchers, and innovators to the site on a regular basis.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network: The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network is an online community for sudden cardiac arrest survivors and their families, families of victims, public safety and healthcare professionals, lay rescuers, and other advocates. The Network provides an opportunity for community members to find others with similar experiences and interests. Members can create profile pages, find their peers by searching multiple data fields, and use the website as a platform to write blogs and forum posts and comment on news articles. Through the Network, members can provide peer support and work in collaboration toward common goals. In addition, survivors may opt to share their stories, and participate in research and efforts to increase awareness, such as media interviews, speaking opportunities, and community outreach.

Research: We conduct public awareness research about sudden cardiac arrest to monitor trends and design public awareness outreach initiatives. In addition, we conduct research among survivors, family members and others in our community to study such issues as post-resuscitation quality of life. In addition, we work with universities and hospitals to facilitate research studies among community members.

Media Relations: Since raising awareness is fundamental to our mission, we place strong emphasis on both traditional media relations and social media engagement. We distribute e-newsletters regularly to thousands of targeted individuals; distribute news releases, which garner tens of thousands of online and print placements; post information on social media channels; and work with reporters and broadcast media to provide information and expert commentary and to facilitate interviews with survivors and others affected by cardiac arrest. Media reports frequently cite the Foundation as an independent, authoritative source. 

Public Service Announcements: Our 30-second PSA and our three-minute video are examples of our efforts to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of bystander action in cardiac emergencies.

Targeted Educational Campaigns: We have developed targeted campaigns for educational settings. You Can Save a Life at School, is an award-winning publication targeted to secondary school stakeholders that has been distributed to schools nationwide. Its related website section is continuously updated with news and stories of survival and loss and model programs. The publication has been used successfully to promote CPR education and greater access to automated external defibrillators in schools in many state legislatures. A similar campaign, You Can Save a Life on Campus™, targeted to college and university stakeholders, is influencing adoption of cardiac emergency response plans, including AED programs, on college campuses.

AED Programs: In collaboration with a corporate partner, we created the AED Readiness Project, which provides recertified AEDs to schools and community organizations that might otherwise lack the opportunity to acquire the lifesaving devices. In addition, we have developed grant programs through which schools may acquire AEDs.

Award Programs: We sponsor several award programs. The People Saving PeopleTM award is designed to raise awareness about the importance of bystander intervention in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. The Foundation also works in collaboration with the Citizen CPR Foundation to conduct the ECCU Video "Minute" Contest, which is designed to stimulate creative ways to raise awareness,

National, Regional and Local Outreach: We conduct outreach by speaking and exhibiting at multiple national conferences and meetings each year. In addition, we conduct workshops for survivors of sudden cardiac arrest and their families. We also conduct and participate in local and regional community events, including an annual 5K walk in Pittsburgh and a hockey fundraiser for the SCA Foundation, organized by Pittsburgh area firefighters.

Advocacy: We support state and federal legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts, including writing amicus briefs in legal cases in support of AED access, testifying before the FDA in support of AED access, and writing letters of support to legislators in multiple states that are working to promote CPR education and AED deployment in schools, rural areas, and other community locations.

Collaboration: Collaboration is one of our core values. We work with other like-minded organizations on initiatives aimed at raising awareness and saving lives. For example, we participated in an American Heart Association task force to develop a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan for schools, a Citizen CPR Foundation task force addressing SCA in youth and programs for sudden cardiac arrest survivors and loved ones, and the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Treatment of Cardiac Arrest. We are among the founding members of the National Cardiac Arrest Collaborative established by the IOM and the National Institutes of Health.

Interview with Norman Abramson, MD, Former Chairman


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Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. In the U.S. alone, more than 350,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year and most victims (88%) die. SCA also affects many young people. Approximately 10 percent of SCA events occur among people less than 40 years of age.

The death toll from SCA is equivalent to the number of people who would die if two fully-loaded Boeing 777 aircraft crashed every single day. Imagine the public outrage if this were to happen. Yet the public does not seem to be aware—let alone protest—this travesty. Too often, common misperceptions prevail. The media often reports about people who die from “massive heart attacks,” reinforcing the mistaken notion that nothing could have been done. In reality, these sudden deaths usually represent sudden cardiac arrest, a condition that can be treated successfully through early intervention with cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillators.

Unlike many other medical conditions, survival from SCA depends on immediate intervention by bystanders, typically laypersons with no medical training who lack an understanding about their vital role in determining whether SCA victims live or die. While only 12 percent of SCA victims survive in the U.S., as many as 38 percent or more could survive if they were treated in a timely, effective manner. If the survival rate could increase to 20 percent, about 70,000 lives could be saved each year.

While many laypersons are exposed to CPR training in school or at work, despite decades of large-scale initiatives, the number of laypersons who have learned and retained these skills and would use them in real world emergencies remains disappointingly low. Similarly, the public’s understanding of the lifesaving potential of defibrillators, particularly when used by laypersons, is severely lacking. Yet to reduce death and disability from SCA, it is important for the general public to learn that its engagement in the lifesaving process is vital.

There is an unmet need for an easily accessible, objective, comprehensive information clearinghouse on the prevention of death and disability due to SCA. While various organizations address specific conditions that cause SCA or specific populations affected by SCA and some organizations include SCA as one of many topics they address, and while there are a number of helpful industry resources, there is no one central repository of current, reliable information on SCA that addresses the condition of SCA before, during and after its occurrence. Furthermore, there is no central virtual meeting place for “any time, any place” exchange of information, ideas, experiences and guidance related to SCA.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation has been established to meet this need. The Foundation is national in focus and global in reach.

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  • Collaboration: We value collaboration, cooperation and collegiality as a way to strengthen our mission and the missions of like-minded organizations with which we interact. We believe that “none of us is as smart as all of us” (Warren Bennis, 1996). We believe in the importance of initiating and sustaining collaborative relationships.
  • Service: We value high-quality, user-centered service, anticipating and meeting the information and communication needs of users.
  • Academic Rigor: We value medical, public health, public policy and education research and the importance of providing current, reliable, valid, science-based practical information.
  • Respect: We respect the individual skills, abilities and diversity of SCA Foundation users, staff, directors, advisors and mentors. We value excellence, accountability, and creativity.
  • Integrity: We value integrity, neutrality and objectivity.
  • Support: We value the importance of giving support to those personally affected by SCA by providing information resources and guidance from professional caregivers and by facilitating peer-to-peer communications.
  • Systems Integration: We value the importance of an integrated systems approach to addressing SCA, recognizing that the prevention of death and disability from SCA depends on the active involvement of laypersons and emergency personnel within integrated EMS systems.
  • Celebration: We value the importance of celebrating successes both in individual patients and in developing solutions to identified issues.

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National Spokesperson

Susan KoeppenSusan Koeppen, KDKA TV News Anchor and Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor

A nationally known, award-winning journalist, Susan Koeppen co-anchors the weeknight editions of KDKA-TV News at 6 and 11, a CBS station in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition Susan is KDKA’s consumer reporter.

Before joining the KDKA news team, Susan was the consumer correspondent for CBS News’ “The Early Show.” Previously, Susan was a consumer reporter and weekend morning anchor for WTAE-TV Pittsburgh (2000-04). Before that, she was an anchor/reporter at WHEC-TV Rochester, N.Y.; an anchor/reporter at WKTV-TV Utica, N.Y.; and a reporter at WNYT-TV Albany.

The Emmy Award-winning reporter is also the recipient of three Gracie Allen Awards. Susan has been honored by the Associated Press for general excellence in reporting and best local documentary. Susan received a Golden Quill award for her story on Wi-Fi dangers. In 2006, she received the Beacon Award from the Home Safety Council for her work on consumer safety issues. Susan was the first reporter to break the news of the largest crib recall in U.S. history. She has traveled the globe for her stories, including reporting live from the Vatican. She received the United Nations Association of Rochester International Media Award for her coverage of war-torn Bosnia.

In 2011, Susan suffered cardiac arrest while training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. She received CPR from two medical students who were driving by and firefighters shocked her heart with an AED. Doctors believe severe mitral regurgitation caused by her mitral valve prolapse leading to her sudden cardiac death. She had open-heart surgery in March 2012 to repair her mitral valve and has fully recovered.

Susan is now a national spokesperson for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. She also works closely with the American Heart Association. She has shared her story on several national talk shows such as “The Talk”, “The Doctors”, and “Doctor Radio.” Susan also works as an emcee and speaker at various local and national events.

Susan was born in Albany, N.Y. She was graduated in 1994 from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in broadcast journalism. She enjoys travel and has been to every continent except Antarctica. Susan is married to plastic surgeon, Dr. Jim O’Toole. They have three children.

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Board of Directors

  • JoAnne Taylor Babbitt, Vice President and Co-Founder, John Taylor Babbitt Foundation, Sea Girt, NJ
  • Carissa Caramanis, Digital Content Marketer, Social Communications Strategist, Senior Consultant & Trainer, Speaker, Red Box Communications, Boston, MA
  • Joe Farrell, PT, CEO, MAppSc, DPT, FAPTA, SCA Survivor, Redwood Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, Inc. (retired), Senior Clinical Faculty,  Kaiser Permanente, Board Secretary, PulsePoint, Danville, CA
  • Martin Gannon, SCA Survivor, Vice President, Investments, Stifel Financial, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Ward Hamilton, President, ZOLL Foundation, Chelmsford, MA
  • Henry Jampel, MD, SCA Survivor, Professor of Opthalmology, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, Baltimore, MD (Chair)
  • Srinivas Murali, MD, FACC, FACM, Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine, Medical Director, the Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute, Allegheny General Hospital, West Penn Allegheny Health System, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Mary M. Newman, MS, President and Co-Founder, SCA Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA (ex officio)
  • Tom Parker, SCA Survivor, CTO (Managing Director), Accenture Security, McLean, VA
  • James L. Richardson, MBA, CCEMTP, Director, Aspen Ambulance District, Aspen, CO

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Advisory Council

  • David H. Belkin, Esq., David Belkin Consulting, LLC, Bethesda, MD
  • Allan Braslow, PhD, President, Braslow & Associates, Greenwich, CT; Senior Consulting Associate, Goodman Research Group, Cambridge, MA
  • Jennifer Chap, StrataVerve, Orlando, FL
  • Bob Davis, U.S. Federal Government, Washington, DC
  • Dana Peres Edelson, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Director of Clinical Research, Emergency Resuscitation Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Ray Fowler, MD, University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX
  • Robert Gillio, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Innerlink, Inc., Lancaster, PA
  • Keith Griffiths, President, The Red Flash Group, Encinitas, CA
  • Bobby V. Khan, MD, PhD, Executive Director, Atlanta Vascular Research Foundation, Director, Carmel Biosciences, Professor of Medicine, University of Central Florida School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, Immediate Past Chairman
  • Katie Koenig, MBA, SVP Transformation, ATI Physical Therapy, Bolingbrook, IL
  • Richard Lazar, Esq., Readiness Systems, LLC, Portland, OR
  • Keith Lurie, MD, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Minnesota Resuscitation Solutions, Minneapolis, MN
  • Robert A. Niskanen, Managing Director, Resurgent Biomedical Consulting LLC, Seattle, WA 
  • Joseph P. Ornato, MD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University/ Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA
  • Edward M. Racht, MD, Medical Director, American Medical Response, Denver, CO
  • Michael C. Reed, MD, Interventional Cardiologist, International Heart Institute of St. Patrick's Hospital Providence, Missoula, MT
  • Andrew Roszak, Esq.,JD, MPA, EMT-P, Child Care Aware of America, Washington, DC
  • Michael R. Sayre, MD, Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Samuel F. Sears, PhD, Professor and Director of Health Psychology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
  • Allen Solomon, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, George Washington University, Washington, DC
  • Roger D. White, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology, Mayo Medical School, Rochester, MN

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Staff and Support

  • President: Mary M. Newman, MS
  • Administrative Assistant: Barbara Cooper
  • Communications & Marketing Associate: Maggie Graham
  • Webmaster: Michael Kuhleman
  • Community Ambassador: Walter Watts
  • Outreach Coordinator: Jennifer Bassett Abel
  • Contributing Author: A. J. Caliendo
  • Accounting Firm: Karen Leonard, CPA, McCall, Scanlon & Tice, LLC
  • Legal Adviser: James R. Olson, Esq.

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Biographical Sketches

Robert M. Davis
U.S. Federal Government
Washington, DC

Bob Davis is a communications professional and former paramedic with a passion for saving lives through team building, public education and advocacy.

A "go-to" member of senior leadership teams and an expert communicator during times of crisis or change, Bob is a seasoned coalition-builder who accomplishes complex and challenging goals with limited resources by inspiring and motivating others. As a communications director and emergency response official, he has a track record of providing a calm and intuitive voice during times of fear and uncertainty. Bob routinely translates complex and technical issues for all audiences and serves as a writing coach and mentor. His expertise in persuading audiences with words, images and graphics is rooted in his journalism career.

Bob worked for 20 years as a newspaper reporter -- 16 years at USA TODAY -- covering everything from emergency medical services, health, justice, and breaking news. He won numerous awards for his in-depth, investigative and breaking news reporting. As a national reporter, Bob pushed for wider use of automated external defibrillators, promoted the use of compression-only CPR instructions by 911 operators, and documented the geographic disparity in nationwide survival of sudden cardiac arrest in a series called “Six Minutes to Live.”

He received a life-saving award for performing CPR on a woman who collapsed in a bank.

Bob lives with his wife in Alexandria, Va.

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Robert G. Gillio, MD
Founder/ Chairman/ Chief Medical Officer
Force for Health Foundation, Innerlink
Lancaster, PA

Robert G. Gillio, MD, co-founder of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, graduated from Lawrence University magna cum laude in 1976 and received his medical degree from Rush Medical College in 1980. He attended the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, where he pursued a residency in internal medicine and a research fellowship in thoracic diseases. He moved to Lancaster in 1988, where he joined Pulmonary Associates and was awarded Doctor of the Year by the Nursing Practice Board. Dr. Gillio left a successful medical practice in the summer of 2000 to devote his attention to the founding of InnerLink. In 2003, he was appointed an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at The Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Gillio has coupled his skills as a physician with his quest to make the practice of medicine safer and better understood through technology. A leader in telemedicine, virtual reality surgical simulation, Internet-based education, and ase-based learning, Dr. Gillio has founded four companies and sold two of them to Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Gillio holds 13 patents on various medical and educational products, six of which are owned by InnerLink, Inc.

Dr. Gillio is the author of Lessons Learned from Ground Zero, an account of his experiences while providing health screenings to New York Police Department (NYPD) officers involved at Ground Zero. He has since participated in federal disaster simulations and debriefed the Pentagon facility staff regarding the events of 9/11. He is founder of the Lancaster Pennsylvania Citizen Corps Council and is a computer software and book reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Gillio's current focus to utilize the web to create tools for education and care with online programs and personal health records, through his company, InnerLink, to try to make a systemic change in the preparedness of a nation for massive large scale catastrophes and individual emergencies, such as sudden cardiac arrest.

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Keith Griffiths
The RedFlash Group
Encinitas, CA

Keith Griffiths has 30 years of publishing, marketing and trade show experience, including the start-up of Jems Communications, where as president he helped lead the creation of multiple trade magazines, research journals, trade shows, newsletters, books, videos, and on-line resources for the emergency care market. With his partner, the late Jim Page, Keith arranged the sale of Jems in 1993 to the Times Mirror Corporation and continued to head the Jems Division for Times Mirror for the next four years.

He left to form his own consulting organization in 1997 and continues to serve as a contributing editor for the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. He serves on the College of Fellows for the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch, which has been a consulting client for the past nine years, and served on the Board of Directors for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. He serves on the advisory boards of several organizations, including Take Heart America, EPIC Medics, the National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue, and the James O. Page Foundation.

Keith has a BA degree in journalism from San Diego State University where he later studied marketing, advertising, accounting and management as a graduate student in its MBA program. He has been a frequent speaker at the Folio Magazine Publishing Seminars and is on the Board of Directors for the Western Publications Association, the leading organization for magazine publishers in the western states.

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Henry Jampel, MD
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

Henry Jampel, MD, is the Odd Fellows Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

On May 16th, 2000, at the age of 44, and seven months after completion of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii, Henry had a cardiac arrest in the shower after a swim workout. After 27 minutes of CPR by four fellow swimmers who were also physicians, he was successfully defibrillated, a striking example of the exception that proves the rule.

Henry relishes in his full recovery from his cardiac arrest, and like most survivors, is passionate about reducing avoidable deaths from sudden cardiac arrest. He testified in 2006 in the Maryland Senate for a bill mandating AEDs in all high schools in the state, and was thrilled that the bill passed.

Henry joined an extremely small group of people in 2004, those survivors of sudden cardiac arrest who have subsequently completed an Ironman triathlon. He lives with his wife, Risa, a dermatologist, and has three children, Catherine, Joseph, and Sarah, who are happy that their dad is still around.

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Bobby V. Khan, MD, PhD, Chairman
Director, Atlanta Vascular Research Foundation
Professor of Medicine, University of Central Florida School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

Dr. Bobby Khan is a cardiologist and clinical investigator who serves as Director of the Atlanta Vascular Research Foundation, Executive Director of Carmel Biosciences, and Professor of Medicine at the University of Central Florida School of Medicine. He has published more than 75 peer-reviewed articles in the areas of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders in highly regarded scientific journals. In 2009, he was awarded a Fulbright Research Chair to work at the University of Prince Edward Island with Dr. Tarek Saleh, Chairman of Biomedical Sciences, and his research group. Dr. Khan’s Fulbright scholarship has allowed him to come to Canada on several occasions over the past five years. His work has been extremely productive and has resulted in the production of multiple research manuscripts and the submission of patents on developed intellectual property.

Dr. Khan has served as the principal investigator for several clinical trials. He has obtained research support from the National Institutes of Health and private companies. He has served on several planning committees for the scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. He is the holder of several patents in the area of Treatment for Atherosclerosis and Other Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Diseases.

Dr. Khan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University, and a Doctor of Medicine (with honors) and a Doctor of Philosophy in pharmacology from the University of Tennessee. His postgraduate education included a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a cardiology fellowship at Emory University. He has received multiple awards including “Outstanding Predoctoral Fellowship Award” and Outstanding Research Award.”

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Katie Koenig, MBAKathryn Koenig, MBA
SVP Transformation
Bolingbrook, IL
Chicago, IL

Kathryn (Katie) Koenig is the Senior Vice President Transformation, ATI Physical Therapy, Bolingbrook, IL. Previously, she was Vice President of Strategic Planning for the University of Chicago Medicine. In this role, Katie managed strategic planning processes, business analytics and the implementation of strategic initiatives. 

Katie came to The University of Chicago Medicine from UNC Health Care, where she directed the strategic planning team. Prior to UNC Health Care, Katie worked at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global strategy consulting firm. Based in BCG’s Atlanta office, Katie worked with senior executives across many industries to address complex strategic and operational challenges. Prior to BCG, Katie held positions with The Vanguard Group, a mutual fund company. 

Katie holds an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where she graduated with honors. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in English with a Music Theory minor from The University of Pennsylvania, graduating cum laude.

Raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and helping to improve the survival rate for victims became a passion for Katie after she lost her father to sudden cardiac arrest on September 15, 2012.

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Srinivas Murali, MD, FACC, FACM
Director, Allegheny General Hospital Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Medical Director, Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute
Pittsburgh, PA

Srinivas Murali, MD, is Director of the Allegheny General Hospital Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and Medical Director of the hospital’s Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute. He joined the faculty in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in 1987. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1993 and to Professor of Medicine in 2002. He became the Medical Director of the cardiac transplantation program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1993. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at the Jewish Hospital and Medical Center, New York, NY in 1983. Dr. Murali was awarded the Diplomate in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1983.

Dr. Murali received fellowship training in cardiovascular disease at the Jewish Hospital in New York between 1983 and 1985. Subsequent to this, he moved to the University of Pittsburgh for specialty fellowship training in heart failure and cardiac transplantation. He was awarded the Diplomate in Cardiovascular Disease by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1987. Dr. Murali was awarded the Fellowship in the American College of Physicians in 1987, Fellowship in the American College of Cardiology in 1989, and Membership in the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation in 1989. Since 2002, he has been honored as one of the 'Best Doctors in America' by the Pittsburgh Magazine every year.

During the past 20 years, Dr. Murali has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications in the field of heart failure and cardiac transplantation. He has given more than 100 presentations in national and international scientific meetings, and he serves on several committees in the American College of Cardiology, International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Pulmonary Hypertension Association and the Heart Failure Society of America.

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Mary M. Newman, MS
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation President
Pittsburgh, PA


Mary M. Newman, MS, is president and co-founder of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation. Previously, she served as co-founder and executive director of the National Center for Early Defibrillation at the University of Pittsburgh and as faculty in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Emergency Medicine. Prior to this, she served as research coordinator for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest research at Krannert Institute of Cardiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis, IN.

Ms. Newman is author/co-author of numerous articles published in peer review journals, trade journals, newsletters, and the popular press, and the co-author of Challenging Sudden Death: A Community Guide to Help Save Lives. She has been a contributing editor of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) since 1980. She created the Chain of Survival metaphor, which has been widely adopted by numerous organizations worldwide.

She was a co-founder of the Citizen CPR Foundation (CCPRF) and served on its Board of Directors for 18 years. She was founding editor of the CCPRF/ American Heart Association (AHA) publication, Currents in Emergency Cardiac Care. She has served on multiple expert panels and committees of government and national nonprofit organizations, including participation in the DOT National Standard Curriculum on Bystander Care, participation in CPR curriculum development for the American Red Cross, and service on the American Heart Association AED Task Force. She was a volunteer emergency medical technician with the Chester, N.J., Fire Department and a volunteer CPR instructor and AHA New Jersey Affiliate Faculty member.

Ms. Newman graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati and completed EMT training at Northeastern University. She pursued a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in epidemiology at Indiana University and received a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management with a focus on nonprofit branding at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

Woman Promotes Awareness, Action for Cardiac Arrest (PDF download)

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Robert A. Niskanen
Managing Director
Resurgent Biomedical Consulting LLC
Seattle, WA

Robert A. Niskanen is the Managing Director of Resurgent Biomedical Consulting, LLC, in Seattle. He works with several companies on induced hypothermia, mechanical CPR devices, and airway control as methods to improve resuscitation. In addition, he is executive director of Take Heart America, a demonstration project aimed to improve survival from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in three U.S. cities.

Previously, he served as a Senior Principal Scientist at Medtronic Emergency Response Systems (ERS) in Redmond, Washington. He was part of the research efforts at Physio-Control Corporation/ Medtronic ERS, for more than 25 years, serving previously as the Director of Research and then VP of Clinical Research. He graduated from the University of Washington with a MSEE in 1976.

Bob has been active in biomedical engineering for more than 30 years. His primary professional interests center on resuscitation, emergency medicine and cardiovascular disease. He has been involved in both technical and clinical research in CPR, defibrillation, ventilation, acute myocardial infarction triage and medical data management. He delights in working with engineers, scientists, physicians, researchers, business professionals and others to solve problems in emergency medicine.

He is active with a number of professional organizations, including the National Association of EMS Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Heart Association, European Resuscitation Council, and Citizen CPR Foundation. He was active with the National Center for Early Defibrillation during its existence at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bob is convinced that dramatic improvements can and will be made in the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest through collaboration. He believes an increased emphasis should be place on the role and influence of SCA survivors in fighting this national medical tragedy.

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Carissa (O'Brien) Caramanis, EMT-P
Red Box Communications
Boston, MA


With more than 15 years in strategic communications, Carissa has spent most of her career helping healthcare organizations better tell their story, finding the right channels to reach their key audiences, and forging connections that create communities of brand advocates. Having worked in print and online media, as well as both television and radio--all in Boston--Carissa learned the ins and outs of content creation and consumption in a market that demands the best. After leading global marketing communications for two multinational healthcare companies, Carissa started and ran her own business, specializing in content and social strategy consulting for healthcare and EMS. In 2011, Carissa took on the role of the first Social Media Community and Content Director at Aetna, a 160-year-old Fortune 100 consumer health brand. There she was responsible for driving collaboration across business functions to develop the brand’s social media strategies and best practices, while serving as an advocate and counsel for the enterprise-wide adoption of social media. Carissa is especially proud of her ongoing role as a patient and provider advocate. A cause that's near and dear to her heart, she has also worked to raise awareness for sudden cardiac arrest through her efforts with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation since its inception. Carissa joined W2O Group in 2014 to share her expertise with healthcare clients looking to leverage digital and social media to reach and influence their communities of interest. Carissa is based in Boston, where she's a lifelong New England sports fan and the proud mother of one spunky 11-year-old girl.

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Joseph P. Ornato, MD, FACC, FACEP
Professor and Chairman
Department of Emergency Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia
Richmond, VA

Dr. Joseph Ornato is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. He is also Medical Director of the Richmond Ambulance Authority, the Prehospital Paramedic System serving the City of Richmond, Virginia.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, he graduated from Boston University Medical School magna cum laude and completed his training in Internal Medicine at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital and in Cardiology at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center. He is triple board certified (Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Emergency Medicine).

Dr. Ornato is an active researcher in the field of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Dr. Ornato is American Editor of the journal Resuscitation and is on the editorial board of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. He is past Chairman of the American Heart Association's National Emergency Cardiac Care Committee and the AHA Advanced Cardiac Life Support Subcommittee. Dr. Ornato is a member of the American College of Cardiology's Emergency Cardiac Care Committee. He is the American Heart Association's national representative to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's National Heart Attack Alert Program's Coordinating Committee and he is Chairman of its Science Base Subcommittee. Dr. Ornato is also a Special Consultant to the Circulatory System Devices Panel of the Food and Drug Administration.

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Tom Parker
CTO, Accenture Security
McLean, VA

Tom Parker is a successful security leader, entrepreneur, engineer and trusted advisor to a global client base. He has over eighteen years’ experience securing the operating environments of multi-national organizations and some of the nation’s most critical infrastructures, with specific focus working with financial services clients. In 2011 he founded an industry shifting security business (FusionX) and successfully sold it to Accenture LLP in 2015. Currently, Tom is a Managing Director (Partner) and the Chief Technology Officer (GTO) for Accenture LLP’s Security business. He is an active member of numerous security industry communities, ranging from technical research to policy and strategy development. This includes being regularly called to present at security conferences around the globe, including the BlackHat briefings.

Edward M. Racht, MD
Chief Medical Officer

American Medical Response
Greenwood Village, CO

Edward M. Racht, M.D. serves as Chief Medical Officer of American Medical Response. He has more than 20 years of experience in emergency medical services and health care systems. Previously, Dr. Racht served as the Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs for Piedmont Newnan Hospital in metro Atlanta and as Medical Director for the Austin/Travis County EMS System in Texas, which was nationally recognized for its collaborative approach to resolving challenging health care integration issues.

Dr. Racht received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Emory University in Atlanta and completed his residency at the Medical College of Virginia. He served as an assistant professor and Associate Chief of Emergency Medical Services at the Medical College of Virginia and Medical Director of the Richmond Ambulance Authority, Richmond Fire Department and multiple volunteer EMS and Fire agencies in Richmond. Racht served three successive terms on the Virginia State Governor’s EMS Advisory Board and Chaired the State of Texas Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council for 10 years.

A frequent national speaker at EMS, and health care conferences, Dr. Racht is well known for his expertise in “operationalizing” medical care.

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Michael C. Reed, MD

Dr. Michael C. Reed is an interventional cardiologist based in Missoula, Montana at the International Heart Institute of St. Patrick's Hospital Providence. Dr. Reed attended University of Notre Dame for his undergraduate studies where he received a Bachelors Degree in English and Premedicine, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He went on to attend the University of Washington Medical School and then completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado Medical School. Dr. Reed was then chief resident for the year to follow after which he attended the University of Michigan for both general and interventional cardiology fellowship training.

Currently, Dr. Reed focuses on structural heart intervention including transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), percutaneous mitral valve repair with MitraClip, and advanced percutaneous defect  closure. He also performs high-volume transradial percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for elective cases, acute coronary syndromes, and complex high-risk PCI. 

Dr. Reed is a father to three young daughters. He enjoys spending time with his family in his native Montana, playing soccer, going on trail runs and competing in triathlons.


James L. Richardson, MBA, CCEMT-P

Jim is Director of the Aspen Ambulance District and has been a Paramedic since 1984, Critical Care Paramedic since 1992, and received his Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration from the University of Colorado in 2006. He is also active at a local, regional and national level as President of the Pitkin County Emergency Medical and Trauma Advisory Committee; President of the Central Mountains Regional EMS and Trauma Advisory Council; member of the State Emergency Medical and Trauma Advisory Council  and member of the state Emergency Medical Practice Council. He has also been involved as a conference committee member for the state EMS conference and with the National Association of EMTs, American Ambulance Association, American Heart Association, and National Association of EMS Physicians on a national level. He also founded and chairs the Save a Life Pitkin County, and his community's ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation) rate from pre-hospital cardiac arrest stands currently at 50 percent. Jim also serves on the boards of the Medic One Foundation in Seattle, Denver Kids, Inc., in Denver, and the Hillsdale Fund and Richardson Corporation in North Carolina.

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Andrew R. Roszak, JD, MPA, EMT-P, Child Care Aware of America, Washington, DC

Andrew Roszak, JD, MPS, EMT-P, is Senior Director of Emergency Preparedness, Child Care Aware of America. Previously he served as Director of Pandemic and Catastrophic Preparedness, National Association of County and City Health Officials. His background includes service as a firefighter/paramedic for eight years in the Chicago land area.  During this time, Andrew also served as a CPR/AED/First Aid instructor at two community colleges. In these capacities, Andrew has been very instrumental in the design and implementation of Early Access AED Programs.

Andrew received an Associates degree in Paramedic Supervision from Kankakee Community College, a Bachelors degree in Fire Science Management from the Chicago Fire Academy - Southern Illinois University, a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Southern Illinois University - School of Law.

Andrew has had numerous articles published and has given presentations nationally regarding the legal implications of AED ownership and use.

After leaving the fire service, Andrew worked for the Deputy Director of Health Protection for the Illinois Department of Public Health for two years. Andrew also served as a Health Policy Fellow in the United States Senate and as a Senior Advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

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Michael R. Sayre, MD
University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Michael R. Sayre, MD, is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Xavier University in Cincinnati and graduated in 1980 with a degree in Natural Sciences. He then attended the University of Cincinnati and received his Doctor of Medicine in 1984. Dr. Sayre completed a residency in Emergency Medicine at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh in 1987. He remained on the attending staff at Allegheny General until 1990 when he returned to Cincinnati.

While on the faculty of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Sayre focused his efforts on EMS. He served as the Medical Director for the EMS program of the Cincinnati Fire Division from 1992 to 2000. In 2000, Dr. Sayre relocated to the University of Chicago to join the staff of the Emergency Resuscitation Research Center where he served as the Director of Clinical Research for the ERRC.

In 2003, Dr. Sayre moved to The Ohio State University and has focused his research on clinical trials involving the management of SCA. He is active with EMS research and serves as the Principal Investigator for the Ohio site in the ASPIRE clinical trial of the AutoPulse CPR assist device. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee.

He served as Chairman of the Founding Board of Directors of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

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Sam Sears, PhD
Professor and Director of Health Psychology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC

Dr. Sears is Professor and Director of Health Psychology at East Carolina University.  He holds joint appointments in Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and the Department of Psychology.  He is a nationally recognized expert in the psychological care and quality of life outcomes of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) patients and has published over 75 articles in the medicine literature on the psychological aspects of cardiology.  His co-authored book with Dr. Wayne Sotile, You Can Make a Difference:  Brief Psychosocial Interventions for ICD Patients and Families, has been distributed to over 4, 000 health care providers worldwide.  Dr. Sears is the principal investigator on funded grants related to psychosocial treatments for ICD patients.   Dr. Sears was honored by his peers by being awarded the “Early Career Contributions to Psychology Award” by the Florida Psychological Association in 1998.  He received five Teacher of the Year awards for both Research and Classroom teaching from the students of his department. Dr. Sears is married to Staci Evans, his wife of 14 years, and they have two sons, Jackson and Brandon, and live in Greenville, NC.

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Roger D. White, MD, FACC
Professor of Anesthesiology
Mayo Medical School
Rochester, MN

Roger D. White, MD, FACC, is professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Medical School and consultant in anesthesiology (cardiovascular) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is a member of the AHA BLS Subcommittee, the National Association of EMS Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He is also on the Board of Directors of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. He is co-medical director of Rochester's Gold Cross Ambulance Service and medical director of the City of Rochester Police/Fire Department Early Defibrillation Program.

Previous activities related to defibrillation include chairperson of the US Food and Drug Administration's Defibrillator Working Group and membership on the AHA Task Force on Automatic External Defibrillation, Subcommittee on AED Safety and Efficacy.

On-going clinical research projects include assessment of patient outcomes following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest caused by ventricular fibrillation and evaluation of the performance of biphasic waveforms in AEDs used by paramedics, police and firefighters. His bibliography includes 134 publications, the majority pertaining to emergency cardiac care.

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Mission & Vision

The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

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