Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer


By Audrey Fraizer

Dr. Joseph Ornato has more awards to his name than most people would have the space to display them on their shelves.

His credentials are impeccable, his experience most notable, and the friends he keeps are a roster of the who’s who in EMS.

Yet, despite the accolades, credentials, and expertise, the Dr. Jeff Clawson Leadership Award signifies the excellence intrinsic to Academic inquiry.

“This award is very special for me,” Dr. Ornato said. “It represents the vital first link in the ‘Chain of Survival’ and, most importantly, comes from the organization that has created the international gold standard on emergency dispatch.”

Dr. Ornato is the Medical Director of the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), Richmond, Va., and a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, also in Richmond. He is triple-board certified in internal medicine, cardiology, and emergency medicine, and, in the world of resuscitation, he is well known for his work in promoting the Chain of Survival.

The chain of survival encompasses a series of essential components along the EMS continuum to improve survival rates from cardiac arrest: early access, early basic CPR, early defibrillation, and early advanced care.1 According to an article in Circulation, describing the importance of each link in the chain, beginning with the concept of pre-arrival instructions (PAIs) and the initiation of the calltaking process: The EMD offers to give the caller advice or instructions on what to do while waiting for the EMS responders to arrive. Internationally, EMDs now give PAIs, and there is widespread acknowledgment that these instructions have improved outcomes.2

Dr. Ornato, who authored the article, advocates an organized, coordinated effort in the community as the strongest recommendation “we can make to save more people from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”3

Academy Accreditation Board Chair Jerry Overton, who presented the award during the Closing Luncheon at NAVIGATOR, praised Dr. Ornato as a “true visionary” in EMS and in the role of the emergency dispatch center.

“He clearly recognized the need for early CPR and continues to be a visionary as far as resuscitation is concerned,” Overton said. “He recognized the importance of protocol and has been relentless in the pursuit of excellence. He deserves the Clawson Award.”

RAA is a self-operated public utility model EMS system employing a system status management approach to its deployment, command, control, and communications. RAA is a member of the Coalition of Advanced EMS Systems and accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Ambulance Services. RAA is an Academy Accredited Center of Excellence, having achieved its first accreditation in December 2001.


1,2,3 “Part 12: From Science to Survival, Strengthening the Chain of Survival in Every Community.” Circulation. American Heart Association. 2000. (accessed May 4, 2016).