Saving lives through awareness of sudden cardiac arrest 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.
Your contributions help our Project ADAM team provide equipment and establish emergency programs that help the children and communities we serve.
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 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?
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.
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.
Recognized Heart Safe Schools
The Heart Safe designation is awarded to schools upon the successful completion of a quality AED program. These schools receive certificates of recognition and are added to our community of Heart Safe Schools around Texas to receive ongoing support from Project ADAM Texas. In addition, Project ADAM will replace or reimburse the replacement of electrode pads for the AED after use in an emergency.
As a small token of our appreciation for keeping your school Heart Safe, we’re pleased to offer a Heart Safe School sticker to proudly display on your Heart Safe School banner.
Please click on the link below to submit your online form by December 31st in order to receive your sticker:
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:
- Fainting or near-fainting during or after exercise, emotion or surprise
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Extreme fatigue associated with exercise
- Extreme shortness of breath associated with exercise
- Discomfort, pain or pressure in chest during or after exercise
- Skipping or racing heartbeats
- High blood pressure
- Congenital heart abnormality
- Family history of sudden death prior to age 50 or known heart abnormalities
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.
Our goal is for every school to have an Emergency Response Team, Emergency Response Plan and an AED drill in place to test their emergency response. We know that in order to do a CPR/AED training and/or an AED drill, you need certain equipment that's not always available to your school. Project ADAM is here to help. We invite you to access our CPR Equipment Library to view what's available for checkout.
- Chapter 1: The Adam in Project ADAM
- Chapter 2: Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest
- Chapter 3: Being Prepared in a Cardiac Emergency
- Chapter 4: Implementing Project ADAM in Your School
- AED Drill
- Learn How to Save a Life using an AED and Hands Only CPR!
- Pediatric cardiovascular risk assessment form
- American Academy Pediatrics (AAP) pre-participation exam (English) (Spanish)
- University Interscholastic League (UIL) pre-participation exam form
- University Interscholastic League (UIL) sudden cardiac arrest awareness form
- Heart Safe School Checklist
- Annual requirements to remain an active Heart Safe School
- Heart Safe School Toolkit
- AED Drill Checklist
- How to Conduct AED Drills
- AED directional signage – letter size
- AED directional signage – legal size
- How to become a Project ADAM Texas Heart Safe School
- Cardiac emergency response plan poster
- Cardiac emergency response team roster
- Pediatric SCA 2012-0144 – American Academy Of Pediatrics
- School incident form
- School readiness assessment
- Sudden cardiac arrest awareness for administrators
- Sudden cardiac arrest awareness for coaches and athletic directors
- All Staff Training Script
Contact our school liaison
- To schedule your free school consultation and receive the steps and resources necessary to make your school a designated Project ADAM Texas Heart Safe School, contact Sarah Thieroff, Project ADAM Texas Program Coordinator, 682-885-6755 or through email at ProjectAdamTexas@cookchildrens.org.
- Cook Children's Heart Center.
Our program in the news
Find us on Facebook
- Check out the Project ADAM Facebook page and learn more about how the program is making schools Heart-Safe in Texas and all across the nation. Discover real stories about families and communities coming together for the sake of kids.
- Go to Project ADAM on Facebook now.
Volunteers are an important part of Project ADAM. Help make a difference for children every day through the gift of your time, energy, and talents.
Subscribe to the Project ADAM eNewsletter
Our newsletter offers valuable information for those interested in school cardiac emergency planning and preparedness. You'll also find stories of success and see how others are making a difference all across the U.S.
We're here to help.
If your child has been diagnosed, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-2140.