Keota Designated a Heart Safe School

Julie Petersen, Seth Milledge, Madison Briggs, Macie Leonard, Stephanie Beinhart, Molly Sprouse, Marnie Schrader, Crystal Wright, Kathy Thalken, Carley Moeller, John Overturf, Donna Stevens, Terri Carl, Shelby Vogel, Colleen Hart, Jennifer Lathrop

KEOTA – Keota Community School recently received the designation of being a Heart Safe School through University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and Project ADAM: Iowa Heartland. 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, and sudden cardiac arrest awareness education.

Becoming a Heart Safe School is one more way to keep the students and staff safe at Keota Schools. Statistically, about 7,000 children and adolescents in the United States experience sudden cardiac arrest each year.

Cathy Thalkne RN, Keota School Nurse, started this program in Dec. 2022, and with the support of the Keota Administration, school board and the staff, worked on policies, protocol, mini drills and was able to have over 35 staff members obtain CPR certification. The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital representative, Trudy Pierick, came to the school on Apr. 19 to observe the Emergency Response Team perform a mock drill. With generous donations, the Keota Community School was able to purchase 3 AEDs with one AED designated to travel to the fields (baseball, softball, track, football) in Keota.

Program coordinators at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital offer an initial phone review, as well as a written review of the school’s current cardiac emergency action plan (EAP) and an onsite emergency drill. A comprehensive EAP may save the life of a student, staff member, parent, or visitor who experiences sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) happens when a child or adult experiences a sudden collapse because of ventricular fibrillation. This disorganized heart rhythm causes the heart to suddenly stop beating normally, and blood does not pump through the body. Because blood isn’t reaching the lungs or brain, the person suddenly passes out and becomes unresponsive with no pulse and abnormal or no breathing.

Warning signs of possible SCA risk include:

-Discomfort, pain, pressure in the chest during or after exercise

-Fainting, nearly fainting, or seizure like activity during or after exercise, emotion or surprise

-Excessive, unexpected and unexplained fatigue or shortness of breath with exercise

-Skipping or racing heartbeats

-Family history of sudden death before age 50 or heart abnormalities

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a device that looks for a shockable heart rhythm and delivers a shock only if needed. It is small, portable, automated, and easy to operate. Voice prompts give instructions, and the AED will not shock someone unless it is needed. Successful resuscitation depends on treatment with CPR and an AED within two to three minutes of the person’s collapse.

Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) began in 1999 after the death of Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old Whitefish Bay, WI, high school student who collapsed and died while playing basketball. Defibrillation with use of an AED could have saved his life. His parents, Patty and Joe, collaborated with Children’s Wisconsin to create this program in Adam’s memory. Project ADAM unites healthcare systems across the nation to promote and support implementation of Heart Safe Schools.

Project ADAM’s mission statement is to save lives by preventing sudden cardiac death through education and implementation of CPR and automated AED programs in schools and community settings. A Project Adam Heart Safe School has successfully implemented a quality sudden cardiac arrest program of awareness, training and effective emergency response to promote a safe environment for students, visitors and staff outlined with the Heart Safe School checklist.




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