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Folsom achieves ‘Heart Safe’ school status

by Lynn Kutter | September 13, 2023 at 11:39 a.m.
Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Folsom Elementary School recently received its status as a designated Project ADAM Heart Safe School. It has a team in place, led by school nurse Laura Hardy, to quickly respond to a person who suffers from a sudden cardiac attack. Hardy, center holding onto the banner, stands with Principal Shannon Cantrell, and the rest of her team members, Charles Wooley from Arkansas Children's Hospital and representatives with Farmington Fire Department and Central EMS.

FARMINGTON -- Folsom Elementary School in Farmington is now designated as a Project ADAM Heart Safe School, which means it has a team in place to quickly respond to a sudden cardiac emergency before first responders are able to arrive on the scene.

School nurse Laura Hardy has been working with Arkansas Children's Hospital since last spring on becoming a designated school.

Her team passed its official drill with a superior score on Sept. 1 with Charles Wooley, who is coordinating Arkansas Project ADAM for the hospital.

"You guys did awesome," Wooley said as he talked to the team and other school staff following the drill. "It was amazing."

Project ADAM is a national program started by the father of Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old boy who collapsed and died of cardiac arrest on the basketball court about 30 years ago. The school did not have an external defibrillator available and Adam did not receive quality CPR. This led to a poor outcome for him, Wooley said.

Adam's parents reached out to a cardiologist about developing a program to save lives. ADAM stands for Automated Defibrillators in Adam's Memory, and Project ADAM strives to assist schools and communities in establishing a practiced plan to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest.

"It's all about increasing your school's preparedness to respond to these sort of things," Wooley said. "We know that decreasing the amount of time it takes to start CPR adds to the chance of survival. Every minute there is a delay, there is a 10% change in their demise."

Wooley had a checklist for Folsom's team as it responded to a cardiac arrest at the school. To be designated a Project ADAM school, someone had to start CPR within 1 minute and use an external defibrillator within 3 minutes. If the school passed those two requirements, that meant everything else fell in place on the checklist, he said.

He placed a dummy on the floor in one of the hallways and then knocked on the closest door to tell the teacher of a health emergency. That teacher immediately went back into her room to notify the office about the emergency and then she came out and started CPR as members of the team showed up and took over for her.

CPR was started within 35 seconds. The response team was there within 35 seconds and the team was using the defibrillator within 1 minute, 20 seconds.

"That's some sort of record," Wooley said.

The response time was very important, Wooley pointed out, because first responders with Farmington Fire Department were not on the scene for more than 7 minutes. Staff with Central EMS arrived after the fire department.

If the team had not started CPR and using the defibrillator, then the chance of survival for the patient would have gone down by 70%, he said.

"We've always been taught, call 911 and wait. We're not doing that anymore," Wooley said. "We're breaking that barrier down by building teams like you guys did today. This builds community resilience. This is the kind of stuff that stands up when these guys (first responders) are not available. They may be out on a fire or something."

Farmington Fire Chief Bill Hellard said the response time for his department for the drill was realistic when considering all the steps it takes for first responders to get the notification to answer a call.

Wooley praised Hardy for her leadership on the team and gave high marks for the roles played by all the team members.

"You guys did really really awesome," he said.

Hardy said she heard about the program last year and immediately wanted to have a response team at Folsom. She submitted a plan to Wooley, and he walked through the school with her to offer suggestions. Hardy formed her eight-person team, and they have practiced to prepare for the official drill.

Folsom's team includes Hardy, Principal Shannon Cantrell, counselor Karla Long, school secretary Cari Reed, instruction faciliator Breanna Dial, teachers Mackenzie Hinderberg, Emily Williams and Denver Holt, and Oliva Morales, a CNA and special education paraprofessional.

"I'm so thankful it all went as we planned for it," Hardy said after the drill. "I don't think it could have gone any better."

Hardy said it is especially important for an elementary school to have a cardiac response team because the school has so many parents and grandparents as visitors.

"In the heat of the moment when the adrenaline is going, some people can't even remember their names," Hardy said. "It's like anything, if you practice it, you know your role, you're ready. That's my goal. I want everyone to be ready."

She said she will be glad to help other schools in the district that are interested in going through the process to become a designated school. These schools will be able to take her plan already approved by Arkansas Children's Hospital and adjust it to fit their campus and then build their own teams.

Wooley closed his remarks with the team, firefighters and staff with Central EMS by talking about luck.

"What is luck? Why do I care about luck? Because every survivor I have ever talked to, there is always a layer of luck," Wooley said. "Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. What we did today was a whole bunch of preparedness."

The result, Wooley said, is that Folsom Elementary now also has a whole lot of luck.

  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Laura Hardy, school nurse for Folsom Elementary, gives information to Capt. Logan Hattabaugh with Farmington Fire Department during a cardiac drill on Sept. 1 for the school to receive its designation as a Heart Safe School. P.E. teacher Denver Holt continues to give chest compressions to the "patient" while Hardy and Hattabaugh discuss the medical emergency.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Farmington firefighters and health professionals with Central EMS take over during a drill Sept 1 at Folsom Elementary for responding to a sudden cardiac arrest. Folsom has a team in place to quickly respond to such a medical emergency to increase the survival rate of the patient. Statistics show that for every minute CPR or an external defibrillator is delayed, the survival rate declines by 10%.
  photo  Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Laura Hardy, school nurse for Folsom Elementary in Farmington, watches as teacher Emily Williams performs compressions on a "patient" who has suffered a sudden heart attack during an official drill for Folsom to become a Project ADAM Heart Safe School. Charles Wooley with Arkansas Children's Hospital, in the back with the clipboard, scores the team's response to the emergency. Folsom passed with a superior score.

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