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The AHA approves Emergency Cardiac Education and Certification

Do you remember the era before the cell phone became our constant companion? It was not that long ago that phone call’s – “trunk calls” were our means to communicate with our family.  An unexpected phone call would arouse anxiety and apprehension. It would be after exchange of several “HELLO’S” that one could discern the message and heave a joyous sigh or sink into depths of sorrow.

Two phone calls that conveyed tragic news served as a catalyst to one of our alumni to initiate BLS/ ACLS programs in Hyderabad. This following narrative which is based on true events is worthy of our recognition.

Dr. Ravinder Reddy Surakanti, class of 1972, had settled in a rural town, Crawfordsville, Indiana to practice as an internist. Prior to that he had a brief stint in a busy Emergency Room of a New York City Hospital. As a resident at that hospital, he gained experience in emergency resuscitative efforts.

On February 20th 1989 came the news of his father’s death at Gandhi Hospital. A year and a half later on September 15th 1990, a phone call announced the sudden demise of his older brother at the age of fifty one in the casualty room of a private hospital. Both succumbed to cardiac arrest in the presence of a physician. Ravi could not help but wonder why cardiac resuscitation effort was not initiated. During conversations among our diaspora in that era, anecdotes of similar nature were not infrequent.

All of us, in similar circumstances, would have accepted it as part of life or fate and move on.  Not so with Ravinder. Propelled and transformed by these tragedies, Ravinder decided to take up the task of bringing American Heart Association approved Emergency Cardiac Education and Certification programs to Hyderabad.

Starting from scratch, with nothing but passion, vision and dogged determination, he started the journey that culminated in launching the first course in 1998.  It took him nearly a decade to put all the pieces together. He created a charitable trust in his father’s memory – “Surakanti Mallareddy Memorial Trust”. Whatever personal assets he could spare were poured into the trust.

In August 1998 a bewildered officer at the Mumbai International Airport stared down at Ravinder. He had disembarked from the U.S.A with sixteen suit cases containing materials needed for the course.  He had not obtained a permit in advance, to “import” the equipment –mannequins, defibrillators, books and all gadgets needed to conduct the first emergency cardiac resuscitation course in Hyderabad. He had tried in vain to obtain the blessing of the Indian Consulate General in Chicago.  He was warned that he could be arrested and put in jail. There was no time to seek permission from the Indian Government.  Ravi ventured ahead hoping to convince the customs officials at the airport. How he managed to reach Hyderabad with the “loot” is too long a story to narrate in this brief write up.

The first comprehensive three day BLS/ACLS course was conducted in August 1998 at Viceroy Hotel, as a suitable facility was not available at GMC. For several years thereafter, utilizing part of his vacation time, Ravinder made an annual pilgrimage to India to organize and conduct the program. At the request of GMCGA, Ravinder has written a first hand account of the travels and travails of a decade that brought his concept to fulfillment. It is a compelling story that I feel is worthy of your time and attention.