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Cook Children's Heart Center
Cook Children's Heart Center - Because childhood should be simple
signs Project Adam

Saving lives through awareness of heart disease in children.

Project ADAM's mission is to educate school systems, nurses, coaches, trainers, parents and others about pediatric sudden cardiac death. Project ADAM helps implement public access defibrillation programs (PAD) across Texas and the nation. Our goal is to increase the awareness of sudden cardiac death and establish emergency programs that help to provide a timely and lifesaving response.

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What is Project ADAM?

Project ADAM (Automated defibrillators in Adam's memory) takes its name from Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old Wisconsin student who collapsed and died while playing basketball in 1999. His passing was one of a series of deaths among high school athletes in southeastern Wisconsin that appeared to be due to ventricular fibrillation – a cardiac event that can be helped with automated external defibrillators (AED). Adam's parents, Patty and Joe Lemel, collaborated with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin to create Project ADAM in Adam's memory in 1999.

The ADAM Act

On July 1, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the ADAM Act into law. With senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) serving as the impetus for the passing of this act, the ADAM Act has been designed to establish a national clearinghouse modeled after Project ADAM that serves as a resource center for schools across the country wishing to implement a public access defibrillator (PAD) program.

What Project ADAM Texas provides

While Project ADAM Texas can serve as a resource for other organizations, the primary goal is to provide schools across Texas with the necessary tools and education to plan, fund and develop their public access defibrillation (PAD) program.

What is an AED and why do we need them?

Laura Friend
Laura Friend lost her daughter due to cardiac arrest, which could have been prevented if those present had been educated on the proper use of AED.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. SCA often occurs in active people with no history of heart conditions. In children, common causes are genetic, congenital or related to a sudden blow to the chest. If treated quickly, using an automated external defibrillator (AED), it is possible to restart the heart and increase the chances of survival.

How an AED works

An AED is a safe device, designed and tested in both children and adults. Each AED has been shown by the manufacturer and supported by the FDA to appropriately detect ventricular fibrillation (shockable heart rhythm). Cardiac arrest is reversible in most victims if it is treated within a few minutes with an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat. This process is called defibrillation. A shock delivered by an AED within 3-5 minutes can save a life and for every minute that passes, survival rates drop by 10%.

Ensuring public access

Public access defibrillation programs such as Project ADAM ensure the best chance of survival for victims of sudden cardiac arrest by providing access to AEDs and trained responders.

The first step is creating all-staff awareness and education, implementing bystander CPR/AED training and written emergency action plans. In rural areas, the need becomes even greater. The response time of EMS can be as short as three minutes or as long as 30 minutes. For each minute that passes the chance of survival falls by 10 percent.

Why schools?

All Texas public and charter schools are required by state law to have an AED on every campus. But it's not enough to simply have the equipment, there also needs to be trained "first responders" on site.

When schools have been trained and you have a plan in place, lives can be saved from sudden cardiac arrest. An emergency plan and staff training are critical. Without a written plan and practicing how to respond to an emergency, you can end up with chaos.

School-based CPR and AED programs establish a community of first responders. First responders improve the likelihood of survival for students, school staff and visitors with sudden cardiac arrest, and should be encouraged in all schools.

It is estimated that 20% of our population are in our schools on any given day. By focusing our efforts toward schools, we are able to reach both young people and adult staff and visitors to the schools in a systematic and efficient manner. Studies strongly support the use of CPR and AEDs in the event of sudden cardiac arrest; when school response teams are trained in appropriate recognition and response, survival rates soar.

Heart safety for youth sports

The likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest in children and young athletes is known to be enhanced by athletic participation. On average, a seemingly healthy young person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest every three days in the U.S. and it's the leading cause of death in exercising young athletes.

Athletic personnel need to recognize the threat to young athletes and properly prepare for sudden cardiac arrest. Every school or organization that sponsors athletic activities should have an AED, trained coaches, and written Emergency Action Plan.

Project ADAM recognized heart-safe schools

The Heart-Safe recognition is awarded to schools upon the successful completion of a quality AED program. These schools receive framed certificates of recognition, monthly updates on regional news, new medical developments and sharing best program practices. Project ADAM will replace or reimburse the replacement of electrode pads for the AED after use in an emergency.


Pre-screening is an essential component of prevention. In Texas, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) requires a Pre-participation Physical Evaluation prior to student involvement in sports for grades (7-12). The physical may help determine whether a student athlete is physically capable of certain exercise, and may determine the need for further evaluation should warning signs be present. However, athletes are not the only ones at risk, and not all children are athletes many are active and some may have underlying heart conditions. Therefore, Project S.A.V.E., our Georgia affiliate, developed the cardiovascular risk assessment form for physicians to use throughout the well-child continuum. The form incorporates questions from the American Academy Pediatrics pre-participation exam.

Sign and symptoms

Pediatric heart disease has warning signs and symptoms that can go unnoticed. It is important to recognize the following:

Not all episodes of sudden cardiac arrest are preventable because many of the kids do not have symptoms until they have the episode. For this reason, secondary prevention strategies are important.




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We're here to help.

For more information or for a free consultation, please contact Sarah Thieroff, Project ADAM Texas program coordinator, at 682-885-6755 or

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