DeKalb County Designated Project ADAM Heart Safe School District

November 7, 2019

The DeKalb County School District has been designated a Project ADAM Heart Safe School District.  We have joined a community effort to place Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in all of our schools. The students, visitors and employees of DeKalb County Schools will have a better chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) because of a new Cardiac Emergency Response Plan surrounding the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).  This Cardiac Emergency Response Plan was implemented through a partnership with Project ADAM by training staff and students to recognize a cardiac arrest and respond appropriately.

Through our cooperative efforts with Project ADAM Tennessee at Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, we have joined hundreds of schools throughout the state of Tennessee and beyond in preparing our school for a life-threatening emergency. This program enables us to offer any person who may experience a Sudden Cardiac Arrest the best chance for survival.

The AEDs are stored in wall cabinets. When the cabinet doors are opened, a loud alarm will sound. This alerts everyone that there is a potential emergency.  Our school has a maintenance plan in place for the unit(s). The AEDs are designed to work effectively unless they are tampered with. Additionally, the AED will not shock a person unless it detects a shockable rhythm (ventricular fibrillation). Staff has been trained to assist with an emergency during regular school hours. AED Drills are held at least annually at all schools.

In the United States, SCA affects more than 350,000 people annually and is the leading cause of death each year. While most SCA deaths occur in adults, SCA is also the leading cause of death in young athletes and can also strike children participating in normal school or sports activity. Sudden cardiac arrest is the abrupt, unexpected loss of heart function, usually resulting from an electrical problem within the heart. When this happens, the heart stops beating and blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. When this occurs the victim collapses and loses consciousness. SCA most often results in death if not treated within minutes. Defibrillation, which delivers an electric shock to the heart, is the only known treatment to stop this chaotic electrical activity within the heart. Each minute defibrillation is delayed, the victim’s chances of survival decreases by 10%.

AEDs are safe and easy to use, making it possible for non-medical personnel to be trained to provide rapid defibrillation for victims of all ages. The American Heart Association, Project ADAM and OSHA recommend that any facility in which large groups of people congregate should establish a CPR and AED program.

Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has partnered with Project ADAM to begin supporting Middle Tennessee schools and community centers. The goal is for every school in middle Tennessee to achieve the Heart Safe designation. This designation indicates to the public that their school staff is trained and prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency. 

Project ADAM is a national, non-profit organization committed to saving lives through advocacy, education, preparedness and collaboration to prevent sudden cardiac death.  Affiliate programs improve the cardiac chain of survival in schools and communities in memory of Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old Whitefish Bay, WI, high school student who collapsed and died while playing basketball at school.

(Pictured is DeKalb Middle School staff implementing an AED drill and being presented with their Heart Safe School designation banner.)

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