Professor Honors Heroes Who Saved His Life

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Being prepared for an emergency.  It takes forethought, training and ability.

Rutgers University-Newark professor Daniel Murnick, the Donald H. Jacobs Chair of Applied Physics, was on hand to personally thank the group of six employees and students who brought him back to life after he suffered cardiac arrest while working out in The Golden Dome Fitness Center on September 9.

"It was truly a pleasure to celebrate the people who saved me on September 9," stated Murnick.  "If not for their prompt knowledgeable and skilled effort I wouldn't be anywhere now."

Murnick and Rutgers-Newark Director of Athletics Mark Griffin presented Cardiac Science Certificates of Heroism to assistant athletic trainer Amanda Campbell, certified EMT responders John Kuder and Amro Elnakib, student fitness center employees Chris Happel and Fateen Belfield, and facility maintenance worker Anthony Jenkins at halftime of a Rutgers-Newark men's basketball win over Rowan on February 15 in The Golden Dome Arena.  The arena floor is located directly above the fitness center.

After Jenkins noticed Murnick collapse after getting off of an exercise machine in the weight training section of the fitness center, he set into motion a remarkably fast response which included professional expertise and some good fortune.

Belfield, a former Scarlet Raider basketball player who helped Rutgers-Newark to an NCAA Division III playoff berth in 2013, and Happel, a current member of the cross country and track & field teams, were on duty in the fitness center as monitors.  El-Nakib, a Rutgers-Newark senior who happened to be working out at the time, is a trained EMT first responder.

Jenkins went to get Campbell, a former Seton Hall University track athlete who is in her first year as the assistant athletic trainer at Rutgers-Newark, who was working in the training room which is adjacent to the fitness center.

Jenkins then went upstairs to find Kuder, a former Scarlet Raider pitcher who was working as a facility assistant.  Kuder is a certified EMT first responder.

All fitness center employees are required to take classes in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillation) through Rutgers-Newark Aquatics Director Tommy Lee.

Murnick's heart had stopped, but a coordinated effort by the talented group used resuscitation and defibrillation to restart his heart and get blood flowing to his brain and other organs before permanent damage could occur.

From the fitness center to the emergency room at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, Murnick absorbed four jolts from defibrillators before he was stabilized.

"I don't remember anything from my cardiac arrest at The Golden Dome Fitness Center until about September 16 when I awoke from triple bypass surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York." Dr. Murnick related.  "I learned what had happended from my family who praised the immediate response at The Golden Dome and the first responders from University Hospital.

"I was treated, stablized and diagnosed at University Hospital until late on September 12 when I was transferred to New York for surgery on September 13."

Murnick is undergoing a cardio-rehab program at Overbrook Hospital in Summit in a controlled environment, but he plans to return to The Golden Dome Fitness Center soon.

"I've valued my workouts, classes and interactions with many students and staff at The Golden Dome for the 25 years I've been at Rutgers," he stated.  "My regular Fitness Center workouts have been ongoing for more than 10 year.  Before that, I mainly used the swimming pool for exercise."

After returing to campus in November and December on a limited basis to meet with students and perform work, Murnick returned to full-time work and teaching in January.

"When I first returned to visit in November, I was overwhelmed with good wishes and good feelings from everyone I spoke to," Murnick added.  "I sought out Amanda and John as well at Amro.  My thanks to them was accepted with modesty and obvious good feeling that they were able to help.  I have always felt that The Golden Dome was amongst the best that Rutgers offered.  Friendly and helpful staff and informal interactions with students, staff and alumni using the outstanding facilities always 'made my day'."

"Situations like this always test our training and preparedness, and I am proud to say that everyone involved performed well," stated Griffin.  "It's always nice when a staff can work together and address an emergency situation where we save one of own."