Project Adam makes sure schools are heart safe

School safety for everyone is key. But what happens if you can't see the danger? For instance, sudden cardiac arrest or SCA. 

There are more than 3,000 schools throughout Wisconsin, but less than 250 have a plan in place to deal with SCA. 

Project ADAM is a non-profit that is working to fix those numbers. The program works with schools to establish an emergency plan in case of a sudden cardiac arrest. In the North Shore area, University School of Milwaukee is the first to be called a Project ADAM Heart Safe School. The school earned this recognition in March thanks to ninth grader Zadan Mason. 

Mason got the idea thanks to a class project about SCA and connecting with Project ADAM's story. 

The program was started in 1999 after Whitefish Bay basketball player Adam Lemel collapsed and died from cardiac arrest during a game. A basketball player himself, Mason recently discovered he has Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy (LVNC) which puts him at a higher risk for SCA.

"It was just startling how many young student athletes die from SCA and it's really actually mostly basketball players," says Mason. 

Mason worked with the school's Head Nurse Kathleen Roebber for more than six months to get the school certified a heart safe school. Administrators, faculty, and staff worked to learn the ins and outs of CPR training and defibrillator use. Roebber says she's proud of the school but more importantly Mason for stepping forward with such a brilliant idea. 

"You have 3 minutes if somebody goes into cardiac arrest. To get there, bring the AED, get them hooked up, and give the first shock," says Roebber. 

Since time is of the essence, Roebber says there are more than 100 people trained in CPR. Additionally, several medical teams, made up of faculty and staff that know how to properly operate the AEDs and help save lives.  There are 10 automated external defibrillators throughout campus.

Project ADAM Administrator,  Allison Thompson says she's proud of Roebber and Mason's teamwork. She says becoming a heart safe school affects the entire community.

"Anybody can go into cardiac arrest, youth, adults, visitors. Really, schools are a hub for visitors," says Thompson. 

For more information about Project ADAM and Heart Safe schools visit their website. 

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