Tell us a little bit about yourself
While growing up in Texas, my family often escaped the south for adventures in Vail, Colorado. A deep love for the mountains was instilled and I often dreamt of becoming a ski instructor in Vail. After graduating from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor's degree from the school of Health & Human Services, I taught high school in an underprivileged area of Fort Worth, TX. Shortly after, the tragic events of 9/11 occurred and caused my generation to question our futures. The mountains were still calling so I made my childhood dream a reality and moved to Vail in 2002. Like so many, I was hooked and wanted to stay. In 2003, I met Matt, we married in 2007; 11 days later our world was rocked when my heart stopped due to cardiac arrest. Fortunately, nearby co-workers called 911, performed CPR, and paramedics used a defibrillator to save my life. Despite my questionable health, a massive economic collapse and the many other challenges presented by living in a rural mountain region, we managed to successfully keep it together and continue our lives in Eagle County.
The improbable survival of my cardiac arrest impacted me deeply. I was convinced that my life was spared to save others. In 2010, I established Starting Hearts, an organization dedicated to saving the lives of people who experience cardiac arrest. Relationships with Eagle County Paramedics Services, Vail Health and others were established to place hundreds of defibrillators throughout the community, presumably resulting in the highest per capita in the world. Also, under my leadership, the organization implemented innovative programs such as PulsePoint, a reverse 911 citizen response system, and Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) to collect incident data, first locally and later statewide. Because of these initiatives, lives have been saved.
In 2015, our true dream came to life when our one and only son, Thomas, was born. As expected, my passions shifted homeward and just prior to the pandemic, I stepped away from my advocacy efforts with Starting Hearts to dedicate more time to family and personal passions. Meanwhile, I have maintained a position on the Colorado CARES Data Committee, which resulted in the co-founding of the Colorado Cardiac Arrest Action Committee. Currently, I am working with Representative Dylan Roberts House Bill 22-1251 regarding the management of cardiac arrest in Colorado. We have the endorsement of important state organizations and more than 200 EMS agencies in Colorado and anticipate bi-partisan support. If passed, this legislation will be one of the most progressive efforts to improve survival from cardiac arrest and will serve as an example for other states.
Why do you want to join the ECPS Board of Directors?
Eagle County Paramedic Services is near and dear to my heart. I have personally benefited from their services through a variety of experiences. From multiple medical transports, responding to a tragic incident in our home, to encouraging my efforts to address cardiac arrest, the ECPS team has continually provided compassionate and professional support. Since 2007, I have been passionate about expressing my thanks for all that ECPS has done for me and our community and serving on the Board of Directors is the ultimate expression of that gratitude.
Furthermore, ECPS is an industry leader with a history of success and excellence. I am a proponent of their forward-thinking initiatives such as Community Paramedics to provide in-home care, and partnerships with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and the Hope Center to improve mental health responses. ECPS should have the ability to adequately bill for these services, but policies have previously prevented them from doing that. I am committed to promoting the long-term stability of these programs by advocating for diverse funding and proper reimbursements. The world of paramedicine is under more pressure than ever before, yet they remain the most overlooked and underappreciated members of healthcare. Every day they put their lives at risk by responding to emergencies where they are required to assess and stabilize patients in the most precarious of situations, in the most extreme environments, and people’s lives often depend on their immediate reactions. Now that requires an amazing individual with skills! The people employed by ECPS are our unsung heroes and my goal is to ensure they are recognized for their sacrificial dedication to our community.
What are some of your prior board leadership experiences?
- Member of the Colorado CARES Data Committee
- Co-founder of the Colorado Cardiac Arrest Action Committee
- Founder and longtime president of Starting Hearts
- Governor appointed State of Colorado ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Task Force
- American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care CO/MT/WY Regional Committee
- Red Ribbon Project of Eagle County
What skills, connections, resources, and expertise do you have to offer to our organization?
Establishing a nonprofit requires one to be and do everything. My experiences include developing and implementing new programs, processing government-required documentation, establishing relationships, leading a board and conducting meetings, presenting to local and national stakeholders, overcoming barriers, fundraising, changing public policy and more. All of these activities require initiative, passion, perseverance and determination.
My 15 years of advocacy work is acknowledged in recent American Heart Association (AHA) publications, in the 2019 CARES National Report, by the American Red Cross Humanitarian Hero Award, the Vail Leadership Institute’s Community Torch Leader Award, and as a national AHA spokesperson. My experience and passion would bring a new perspective to ECPS and I would be honored to serve our community as a Board of Director.
What are your hobbies and interests?
Caring for our seven-year-old consumes most of my time. I serve as the classroom mom at Vail Mountain School, volunteer for many school initiatives, and recently committed to being a substitute teacher. Taking cookies and lemonade to the patients at Vail Health is one of my favorite weekly commitments. Outside of family, saving the lives of people who experience cardiac arrest remains a primary interest and I continue to engage in local and national advocacy efforts in an attempt to make a difference. In my spare moments, I love to hike and Nordic ski in EagleVail. My husband refers to me as “the busiest unemployed person around.