Heart Center Project ADAM®


Preventing sudden cardiac arrest

At Texas Children’s Hospital, we believe that prevention is just as important as treatment. That’s why we’ve partnered with Project ADAM to help prevent the deaths of children and adolescents due to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

About Project ADAM

Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) aims to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in children and adolescents through education and implementation of lifesaving programs. Project ADAM began in 1999 after a series of sudden deaths among high school athletes in southeastern Wisconsin, including 17-year-old Adam Lemel. Many of these deaths appeared to be due to ventricular fibrillation, a condition in which the ventricles cannot pump blood into the body. Adam’s parents, Patty and Joe Lemel, and Adam’s childhood friend, David Ellis, collaborated with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to create this program in Adam’s memory.

Project ADAM helps schools nationwide implement programs to make automated external defibrillators (AEDs) readily available by preparing schools for a cardiac emergency through emergency response plans, staff CPR and AED training, student CPR education and sudden cardiac arrest awareness education.

The Adam in Project ADAM®

Information on Project ADAM

SCA is a condition in which the heart stops abruptly and unexpectedly. It may be caused by abnormal or irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. A common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation (VF), an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that occurs when the heart’s lower chambers suddenly start beating too quickly to fill with blood. As a result, not enough blood is pumped with each beat, and death occurs within minutes after the heart stops because it, too, is not receiving enough blood to function. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed, and a defibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes.

SCA can happen to anyone, at any age, with little or no warning. SCA often occurs in active individuals who appear healthy and have no known medical conditions. Commonly, SCA is the first indication of a heart condition. However, some people can be identified in advance as being at risk for SCA. Early warning signs of possible heart disease include:

  1. Previous heart attack
  2. Heart murmur or congenital heart abnormality
  3. Unusual chest pain or shortness of breath during or after exercise
  4. Fainting or dizziness during or after exercise
  5. Family history of sudden death of a blood relative before age 50

An automated external defibrillator is a lightweight, portable electronic device that delivers an electric shock to the heart. When the heart is in sudden cardiac arrest, a shock through the chest (which travels to the heart) can halt an abnormal, ineffective rhythm and reestablish a normal rhythm.      

According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac death accounts for 19% of sudden deaths in children between 1 in 13 years of age and 30% between 14 and 21 years of age.* With these numbers it is important that we equip our schools with the proper tools they need in order to react successfully to a sudden cardiac arrest. Under Texas Education Code § 38.07, all Texas public schools and charter schools are required to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) available at their campus. Reinforcing this law, and helping to prepare school staff for a sudden cardiac arrest can help save a child’s life. What Project ADAM’s preparation can look for:

  • Appropriate quantity of AEDs
    • After a sudden cardiac arrest it takes 2-3 minutes before the brain can permanently loose brain function, without a shock to the heart. AEDs should be available within 2-3 minutes of every part of the campus.
  • Signage of the AED
    • When in an unfamiliar location, it is key to know where AEDs are located in order to get to them and back to the victim within the 2-3 minute time frame.
  • Drills
    • Holding practice drills will help familiarize staff with response times and actions needed to save a life.
  • AED Maintenance
    • An AED machine and it’s parts have expiration dates, checking machines and parts regularly will help with ensuring these items are ready to be used when necessary.
*CPR Facts and stats. cpr.heart.org. (n.d.). https://cpr.heart.org/en/resources/cpr-facts-and-stats#:~:text=The%2020….

Texas Children’s has started to certify schools in various districts throughout the city of Houston. As we continue certifying various schools and educating school staff members on what to do during a sudden cardiac arrest, we hope we can reach every school in the state of Texas.

Educating schools on how to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest can save a life! Just ask our friend, Jeremiah Harry, who at age 6 experienced sudden cardiac arrest while at a Project ADAM Heart Safe School. His story can be found below.

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In order to become Heart Safe, and better prepare you and your staff on what to do if a sudden cardiac arrest happens on your campus please complete the Heart Safe Checklist below:

  • Fill out as much as possible, once you filled out as much as you can, click save and return later at the bottom, then take note of the Return Code

  • When you are ready to add in the remaining information click the “Returning” button on the top right and type in your Code to pick up where you left.

  • Once your form is completed you will be contacted to arrange when you will receive your banner and certificate.

  • If you need assistance or have any questions email: projectadam@texaschildrens.org or look under the Resources tab of our website.

Interested in getting a local school or community center Heart Safe Certified? Share our Project ADAM® flyer and give your campus our information.

Project ADAM® Flyer

Project ADAM® Parent Letter

Texas Children’s relies on the generosity of the community to support Project ADAM and its goals to increase awareness of sudden cardiac death and implement life-saving programs that help provide timely and lifesaving responses in schools across Houston. Please consider making a gift to support Project ADAM to directly fund:

  • AEDs and CPR mannequins for community schools in need
  • Training and educational materials
  • Community outreach events

Resources to help get you to complete our 
Heart Safe Checklist

Step 1: AED Placement

Step 2: AED Signage

Step 3: AED(s) Maintenance

Step 4: Ready Kit with AED

Step 5: Identify CPR/AED Site Coordinator

Step 6: Identify members of the Cardiac Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Step 7: Cardiac Emergency Response Plan (CERP)

Step 8: Cardiac Emergency Communication Code

Step 9: Sharing CERP with EMS

Step 10: Sharing CERP with other who use your campus

Step 11: CPR/AED Training for Team Members

Step 12: All Staff Annual Awareness

Step 13: All Staff Annual Training

Step 14: AED Drills

Other Helpful Resources:

Reporting a Heart Event:

What to Do Next

Begin the Heart Safe Process

Contact Us

To learn more, contact us at 832-826-2885 or projectadam@texaschildrens.org.

Redcap form for interested schools to become heart safe