MILWAUKEE (5/14/2007) - Three Wisconsin teens have collapsed and died in the past six weeks after participating in athletics at their schools. Project ADAM, a program of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's Herma Heart Center, helps schools in Wisconsin and across the nation implement defibrillation programs. Project ADAM began in the fall of 1999 when a similar series of student athlete deaths occurred. Among those students was Adam Lemel, the project's namesake, who died of sudden cardiac arrest while paying basketball.
"We are saddened about these teens' deaths," said Stuart Berger, MD, medical director, Project ADAM and Cardiology at the Herma Heart Center, and a professor of Pediatrics (Cardiology) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "While every situation is different, they demonstrate the fact that these incidents do occur and the great need for programs like Project ADAM to continue implementing defibrillator programs in public facilities like schools. They also indicate the urgency of our current research into the cause of sudden cardiac arrest in children and teens to prevent these events from happening."
Currently in Wisconsin, more than 500 schools or school districts have been served by Project ADAM. In addition, Project ADAM works to establish affiliate sites across the nation to help all schools become equipped to handle a sudden cardiac incident. Affiliate projects now are active in Florida (Project ADAM® Florida), Philadelphia (Youth Heart Watch, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) and Atlanta (Project SAVE).
When a rescuer uses a defibrillator, the patient's chance for survival increases significantly. Automated External Defibrillators are made to detect ventricular fibrillation, an erratic heart rate that prevents blood from correctly flowing to the body. The AED can and will only shock the patient if ventricular fibrillation is present. The ease of use and efficiency of an AED allows the layperson to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest employing all components of the chain of survival including an early 9-1-1 call, early cardiopulmonary resuscitation, early defibrillation and early emergency medical care.
The first documented life saved through Project ADAM occurred in 2004. A 56-year-old high school coach suddenly collapsed during the final moments of a basketball game. Thanks to Project ADAM, the school was prepared to deal with the emergency and had an AED and trained staff on location. The coach was awake and talking by the time paramedics arrived and has made a complete recovery. Since then nine more lives have been saved as a direct result of Project ADAM efforts.
Project ADAM helps schools determine the need for AEDs, secure funding, provide program implementation templates and assist with effective education about the program. Project ADAM also is helping schools develop a curriculum that requires CPR/AED certification for students prior to high school graduation. For more information about Project ADAM, visit the Web site at www.ProjectAdam.com.