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EMS schools honored for heart-safe preparations

Twelve more campuses across EMS ISD have been designated as Heart Safe Schools as part of Project Adam Texas, a program of Cook Children’s Heart Center. Congratulations to the following campuses that recently were honored with special Heart Safe banners for their schools:

  • Boswell High School
  • Chisholm Trail High School
  • Creekview Middle School
  • Ed Willkie Middle School
  • Highland Middle School
  • Prairie Vista Middle School
  • Chisholm Ridge Elementary
  • Elkins Elementary
  • High Country Elementary
  • Northbrook Elementary
  • Remington Point Elementary
  • Weldon Hafley Development Center.

Sarah Thieroff, coordinator for Project Adam Texas, said that the EMS ISD community should be proud to have all of its campuses designated as Heart Safe Schools. In fact, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD is one of only 11 school districts in the state of Texas where every campus is designated a Heart Safe School.

While Texas law requires that every public school have an AED, or automated external defibrillator device, the Heart Safe Schools program ensures the campus has a trained team ready to spring into action when a cardiac emergency occurs.

Thieroff said schools must meet five annual requirements to be designated as Heart Safe Schools. They need to have five-to-10 staff members who are part of a designated cardiac emergency response team. The team leader, usually the campus nurse, must ensure that all members are current on CPR certification and use of the AED. The team must conduct annual drills, check the AED monthly (or per manufacturer's instructions) and train all staff to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest.

“If something were to happen, you think you're covered because you have the equipment, but you need to have a response plan,” Thieroff said.

Every minute matters because brain damage can occur before an ambulance arrives, she added. Also, if the nurse is off campus during an emergency, the team still knows what to do.

The team at Creekview Middle School put their training into practice just recently. On May 9, CMS nurse Traci Huff put out a “Code AED” for the school’s cardiac emergency response team to get the AED and call 911 when a boy collapsed while choking in the cafeteria. Fortunately, the boy revived after Huff performed a few chest compressions and didn’t need the AED, but the team responded “like clockwork,” she said.

“I'm glad we ran those drills,” she said. “This incident gave everyone an appreciation for why we do those things.”

Cheryl Phalen, coordinator of EMS ISD Health Services, agreed. “Emergencies like that one demonstrate the importance of our annual drills,” she added.

Thieroff visited the schools on May 23 to congratulate crisis team members and distribute Heart Safe banners. Other district campuses received banners earlier this year. During her recent visit, Thieroff also presented “Hero Certificates” to Huff and other members of the cardiac emergency response team at CMS to honor their actions to help the student in distress.

Project ADAM is named for a 17-year-old Wisconsin boy who died at school from sudden cardiac arrest. The death might have been prevented by a readily available AED. For more information, go to projectadam.com or projectadamtexas.org.