Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the most common contributor to heart disease–related deaths. The American Heart Association estimates that out-of-hospital SCA in the US is over 325,000 annually with an average survival rate of only 10 percent.
Unfortunately, the young are not excluded from this risk. Several studies conducted over the last few decades have demonstrated risk of sudden cardiac death in the young between 1 and 8 deaths per 100,000 per year. Although sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes may be more visible, sudden cardiac death also occurs in young nonathletes.
Because approximately 20 percent of a community is in its schools on any given day, including students, teachers, staff and family members, a focused effort on cardiac arrest preparedness in schools is critical to protecting our children and others in the community and beyond.
Project ADAM and Heart Safe Schools
Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) is a national, non-profit organization committed to saving lives through advocacy, education, preparedness and collaboration to prevent sudden cardiac death. Focused prevention, training and education ensures schools and communities are not only equipped, but also trained in prevention of sudden cardiac deaths.
As a Project ADAM affiliate, Lurie Children’s aims to increase survival from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in Illinois by building school capacity through achievement of Project ADAM’s Heart Safe School (HSS) designation. It’s not enough to simply have Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in the building. Lives are saved when schools are prepared with a documented plan, a cardiac response team, and are well trained and practiced on how to respond in the event of a cardiac emergency.
Project ADAM affiliates provide the foundation for schools to plan and develop their program, including planning templates, a reference manual and one-on-one consultation on how to help prevent sudden cardiac death in the school setting.
Heart Safe School designation is attained when schools successfully implement a program of Bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (B-CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training as well as emergency preparedness and response to promote a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors.