Project ADAM

What is Project ADAM?

Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam's Memory) is a national program founded at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin that educates and equips schools to respond a sudden cardiac event. This is accomplished by ensuring that schools have personnel and procedures in place to respond to the event as well as automated external defibrillators strategically located throughout the campus. Once the personnel, procedures and AEDs are in place, the school can apply to be identified as a “Heart Safe School.”

Founded at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, children’s hospitals and health systems throughout the country have joined in the mission to reduce preventable cardiac deaths by becoming a Project ADAM affiliate. Lurie Children’s became the 25th affiliate in April 2019. Our program is administered through Lurie Children's Heart Center and led by Stuart Berger, MD, Division Head of Cardiology in collaboration with Lurie Children’s Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities.

Project ADAM 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, including Dr. Berger who was there at the time, to create Project ADAM in 1999.

The Need

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 326,200 annually with an average survival rate of only 10.6%.(1)

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. (2, 3, 4, 5) Although sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes may be more visible, sudden cardiac death also occurs in young nonathletes. (4, 6)

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.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest, (SCA), is a condition in which the heartbeat stops abruptly and unexpectedly. This may be caused by abnormal, or irregular, heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. A common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation (VF), an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system. VF occurs when the heart’s lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and do not pump blood properly. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed and a defibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any age, with little or no warning. SCA often occurs in active individuals who appear healthy and have no known medical conditions. Commonly, SCA is the first indication of a heart condition. However, some people can be identified in advance as being at risk for SCA.

Heart Safe Schools

Project ADAM’s Heart Safe School designation is attained by schools upon successful implementation of a quality sudden cardiac arrest program of awareness, training and effective emergency response to promote a heart safe environment for students, visitors and staff as outlined within the Heart Safe School Checklist.

Heart Safe School recognition lasts two full years. To maintain and renew, your school should submit the Heart Safe school checklist and the CPR-AED drill checklist to the Project ADAM team for each school year.

Download the Heart Safe School Checklist

What are the benefits of becoming a recognized Heart Safe School through Project ADAM?

  • A Heart Safe School certificate and banner to promote your designation.
  • Recognition on Lurie Children’s Project ADAM Illinois webpage.
  • Free AED replacement pads (supplied when original pads are used in an emergency event).
  • Most importantly, you’ll be able to put these newly acquired response plans into action and ensure you are equipped with the skills to save a child’s life!

How does your school become a Heart Safe School?

  • A written cardiac emergency response plan
  • A cardiac emergency response team
  • CPR/AED training
  • A sufficient number of properly maintained and accessible AEDs
  • Annual cardiac emergency response drills

How can Project ADAM help your school become Heart Safe?

  • Individualized consultations and ongoing communication and support from the Project ADAM Illinois team.
  • Free educational videos and templates to organize and customize your Project ADAM efforts.
  • Connections to local resources for training, drills and funding.

Information for your School on Project ADAM

Project ADAM Heart Safe Schools Intake Form

Interested in becoming a Heart Safe School or are you a parent and would like for us to get in touch with your child's school? 

Complete our intake Form

Contact Information

We welcome your questions about Project ADAM. Please reach out to us at

Currently Designated Heart Safe Schools

  • Abraham Lincoln Elementary​
  • Ben Franklin Elementary​
  • Churchill Elementary​
  • Forest Glen Elementary School 
  • Hadley Junior High​

  • Dorothy Simon Elementary School​
  • Jean McNair Elementary​
  • Winnebago High School ​
  • Winnebago Middle School​

  • Clinton Elementary School
  • Clinton High School​
  • Clinton Jr High School​
  • Douglas Elementary School
  • Lincoln Elementary School

  • Big Timber Elementary​
  • deLacey Family Education Center​
  • Dundee Middle School​
  • Perry Elementary School​

  • Apollo Elementary School
  • Mark Twain Elementary  School
  • Melzer School
  • Nelson School
  • Washington Elementary School
  • Gemini Middle School
  • Early Learning Center

  • Eastland Jr/Sr High School 

  • William E. Young Elementary School

  • Rochelle Township High School

  • Rochester Elementary School EC-1
  • Rochester Elementary School 2-3


Resources at Lurie Children's

Community Resources

AED Resources - Got AED: Visit GotAED to set up a crowdfunding campaign. GotAED is dedicated to getting AEDs in places where kids learn and play. In minutes, your campaign will be up and you can begin notifying your network.

Illinois Legislation

Illinois Administrative Code – 77 Ill. Adm. Code 527.300 Physical Fitness Facility

Outlines requirements for a “physical fitness facility” or “facility” that is owned or operated by a public or private elementary or secondary school, college, university, or technical or trade school

Illinois Administrative Code- 77 Ill. Adm. Code 525. Automated External Defibrillator Code

Outlines requirement for training for AED users (525.300), maintenance and testing and local emergency communications notification (525.600)

See for various CERP templates.

Illinois Administrative Code – 77 Ill. Adm. Code 527.400 Medical Emergency Plan

The operator of a facility shall adopt and implement a plan for responding to a medical emergency at the facility. The plan must encompass the use of an AED.

Illinois Compiled Statutes – 410 ILCS 4/30 Sec. 30. Exemption from civil liability

Uses key verbiage to describe immunity from civil damages for schools who own, occupy or manage the premises where an AED is located

Illinois Compiled Statutes – 745 ILCS 49/12 Sec. 12. Use of an automated external defibrillator; exemption from civil liability for emergency care.


(1) Mozaffarian, D., Benjamin, E. J., Go, A. S., Arnett, D. K., Blaha, M. J., Cushman, M., ... & Turner, M. B. (2015). Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. circulation, 131(4), e29-e322.

(2) Sudden unexpected death in children and adolescents. Driscoll DJ, Edwards W; JACC 1985.

(3) Sudden cardiac death in infants, children, and adolescents.  Berger S, Dhala A, Friedberg D; Pediatric Clinics of North America 1999.

(4) Incidence of sudden cardiac arrest in high school student athletes on school campus.  Toresdahl B, Rao A, Harmon K, Drezner J; Heart Rhythm 2014.

(5) Prospective study of sudden cardiac death among children and young adults.  Bagnall RD,; NEJM 2016.

(6) Risk Factors of Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young: A Multiple-Year Community-Wide Assessment Reshmy Jayaraman, Kyndaron Reinier, Sandeep Nair, Aapo L. Aro, Audrey Uy-Evanado, Carmen Rusinaru, Eric C. Stecker, Karen Gunson, Jonathan Jui, Sumeet S. Chugh Circulation. 2017.