All About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association

Interview by Jodie Elrod

Interview by Jodie Elrod

In this interview we speak with Lisa A. Levine, CAE, President of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA) and Co-Chair of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition.

Tell us about this year’s SCAA Annual Meeting, which took place September 23-25, 2011. What changes or updates were made to this year’s program?

The 4th annual SCAA meeting was a great success, with approximately 300 people attending over the three-day meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference focus of this year’s program was “Navigating a National Approach to SCA Survival.” This year SCAA rolled out three new programs:

  • Keep It Beating CPR/AED program
  • First On The Scene Toolkit - A resource for first responders/EMS to work together with SCAA Chapters to raise awareness, in their communities, of sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of bystander intervention
  • COPE (Cardiovascular Outcomes; Psychosocial Education) - A website portal providing a wealth of resources to support the emotional needs of survivors and families, as well as resources to assist healthcare providers support victims.

In addition, we had an emotional and joyous celebration of life during our Survivor & Hero Celebration Dinner, hosted and held at Medtronic Headquarters.

SCAA trained 35 instructors for the Keep It Beating course, and hosted a medical program on Sept. 23, during which attendees heard about groundbreaking updates with SCA research and hypothermia successes, discussed how to keep young athletes safe from SCA, and examined the post-SCA psychosocial impact on survivors and their families.

Also new this year was a community education track, in which local SCA advocates, families, and interested parties could attend and learn how to set up healthy heart communities, implement public access defibrillation (PAD) programs, and get schools and coaches to work together to keep students safe and alive from SCA.

Tell us more about the launch of Project COPE. Why was it important to create such a group? What resources will Project COPE provide?

COPE was launched to provide much-needed psychological and emotional support to SCA survivors, family members, their co-workers, and those who have lost a loved one to SCA. Because SCA happens without warning, and often without witnesses, the survival rate is extremely low — only about 8% of those who suffer an SCA survive. Ninety percent of survivors suffer at least short-term memory loss, and about 50% suffer long-term neurological and psychological challenges. Many also suffer from anxiety, depression, and more — yet most survivors are not recommended for psychological evaluations, consultations or rehab, so they suffer in silence. SCAA’s goal is to provide resources, education, referrals and connections for survivors and families. We also hope to sensitize the healthcare community to this void in care, share resources to help healthcare providers identify issues within their patients, and provide the referrals the survivors so desperately need. The ultimate goal is to help healthcare providers provide a continuum of care, resulting in greater compliance to rehabilitation therapies and medication adherence for a balanced life.

SCAA is leading the charge in developing patient and healthcare provider resources — most of which will be provided through our website portal ( However, COPE is a collaborative effort, with various organizations providing content for the site. Anyone is able to access the information. 

Discuss the components of the First On The Scene Toolkit.

First On The Scene is a toolbox created to support community outreach efforts of our first responders and EMS groups. The kit also provides an opportunity for our local chapters to work directly with their first responders to conduct community education programs, participate in health fairs, manage heart screenings, create PAD programs, and so much more. Depending on the sophistication of the EMS/first responders, the First On The Scene Toolkit can bring new programs focused on SCA to communities. The First On The Scene Toolkit provides suggestions and powerful tools to use in your public outreach efforts. EMS and First Responders serve on the front lines of critical care, often making first contact with patients in a time of most need. SCAA welcomes and values your partnership in raising awareness of SCA and the public’s role in increasing survival from SCA.

What other new initiatives is the SCAA involved with?

During SCA month, SCAA conducted “Take A Stand Against SCA” fundraising to help fund programs that teach students CPR and how to place AEDs. In addition, SCAA co-sponsored a Capitol Hill Day on Oct. 26 to bring awareness of the importance of knowing CPR/AED and encourage members of Congress to support legislation to bring AED and CPR training into all high schools. Together we can save lives.

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