This Heart Month, there was even more reason to celebrate as representatives from 11 Houston area schools visited Texas Children’s Heart Center for a special graduation ceremony during which they were awarded their Project ADAM® Heart Safe School designation.
Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) is a national program that was started 1999 by the parents of Adam Lemel, a Wisconsin teen who passed away from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) – a condition in which the heartbeat abruptly and unexpectedly stops. Every year nearly 7,000 children in the United States experience SCA outside of a hospital, and less than 10 percent of those children survive. Administering CPR immediately can more than double the chances of survival for SCA victims, and the chances of survival increase even more if an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is present. Since children spend a significant amount of their time at school, it is imperative that schools understand how to respond to an SCA on campus.
Project ADAM unites affiliate hospitals, like Texas Children’s, with area schools to help them become better prepared to respond to SCA. The Heart Safe designation is earned 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.
“Making a school Heart Safe is not only beneficial for students, but also for the adults who work there and for any visitors the school might have,” said Dr. Santiago Valdes, Texas Children’s cardiologist and medical director of the local Project ADAM initiative. “This program helps educators develop action plans that can minimize time between arrest and defibrillation and increase chances of survival. We’re excited to carry the momentum of these first few successful years forward”
As a Project ADAM affiliate, Texas Children’s helped 11 Houston area schools earn their Heart Safe designation from 2015 to 2018. However, last year, representatives from Texas Children’s Project ADAM team, including representatives from the departments of Government Relations and Community Benefits, Cardiology, and Administration, devised a plan to greatly expand the program’s reach. This included partnering with Houston Independent School District (HISD) to identify and target high-risk schools, and securing funding from the American Heart Association to provide participating schools with new AEDs.
The result: As of February 2019 – just in time for Heart Month – Texas Children’s helped double the number of Heart Safe Schools in Greater Houston.
There’s still work to be done. There are 256 schools in HISD alone, which doesn’t account for schools in large neighboring communities such as Katy and Pearland. But ambitions are high. The graduation ceremony ended with a collective pledge to continue growing the program until every school in the region is Heart Safe.
“This is a day we put our flag in the ground,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kim, director of Texas Children’s Arrhythmia and Pacing (Electrophysiology) Service and member of Texas Children’s Project ADAM advisory committee. “We’re aiming to certify all schools in the Houston area. This is a fantastic start, but there are hundreds of more schools to go and we have a lot of work to do. Although we may not be able to stop all sudden cardiac arrest, we are hopeful to make a powerful difference and save lives.”
2019 Texas Children’s Project ADAM Heart Safe Schools
- Bonner Elementary
- Carrillo Elementary
- CJ Harris Elementary
- Epps Island Elementary
- Jenard Gross Elementary
- Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
- Lovett Elementary
- Patterson Elementary
- Pugh Elementary
- Westbury High School
- Young Elementary