More Iowa districts aim to become a ‘heart safe school’ through Project ADAM

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:19 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - More school districts now than ever in the state of Iowa are showing interest in becoming a designated “heart safe” area. It’s part of a program called “Project ADAM” where medical officials help school staff be prepared if someone were to experience sudden cardiac arrest.

Interest has peaked after millions of people saw Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin go into cardiac arrest after making a tackle on Monday Night Football three weeks ago .

While it started nationally back in 1999, UIHC only recently started offering the program to the state in 2021.

“We really work to go into the schools and into the communities to try and make sure that they have an understanding of 1, what is cardiac arrest; 2, how to prepare for it; and 3, what are the steps to take if they were to occur,” said UIHC Pediatric Cardiologist and Project ADAM Medical Director, Dr. Gary Beasley.

Sudden cardiac arrest is rare in young people, but it can happen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 2,000 people under age 25 in the United States die each year of sudden cardiac arrest.

The difference this program can make comes as medical officials evaluate how many AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, a building has; how many individuals there are CPR certified and how often they practice a cardiac emergency response.

“And then at that time is when we can designate them ‘Heart Safe’ through Project ADAM,” said Dr. Beasley.

One school district that that was one of the first to become designated in the state was Camanche.

“UIHC was able to give us some guidance on how to get the team going and then it was just a matter of who’s doing this, who’s doing that, and yes we already do this or no we don’t do that yet, and kind of getting it all under one umbrella,” said Camanche High School Assistant Principal Josh Davis.

As we approach February - Heart Health month- medical officials hope to make those types of drills as normal and frequent as a school fire drill. Both can save lives.

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