FSSD earns Heart Safe School District distinction

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Following months of training at each school and the district office, the Franklin Special School District has been designated a Heart Safe School District by the Project ADAM team at Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 

This designation indicates to the public that school staff is trained and prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency. The FSSD’s eight schools join 200 others with the Project ADAM Heart Safe Campus designation.

“We were committed to achieving this certification because the students, visitors and employees of every FSSD school now have a better chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA),” said Amy Fisher, RN, FSSD district nurse. “This is because of the district’s new Cardiac Emergency Response Plan for the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in our schools. 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. Every FSSD school has an AED and staff are trained in its use.”

The Cardiac Emergency Response Plan was implemented through a partnership with Project ADAM, a national non-profit organization with a Vanderbilt affiliate that is committed to saving lives through advocacy, education, preparedness and collaboration to prevent sudden cardiac death. The local training programs improve the cardiac chain of survival in schools and communities in memory of Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, high school student who collapsed and died while playing basketball at school.

The training was done over the spring and summer by Vanderbilt medical staff and assisted by the FSSD nursing team, with the goal of ensuring key school and district staff at each location can recognize a cardiac arrest and respond appropriately. 

“We want to be sure that we can effectively respond to any medical emergency that occurs on our property,” Fisher said.

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 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%.

Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is a Project ADAM partner and supports 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. 

For more information about Project ADAM Middle Tennessee, go online at https://www.childrenshospitalvanderbilt.org/projectadam.

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