Connolly: Dover schools prepare for cardiac arrests


Dr. Sean Connolly is a pediatric cardiologist at Nemours Children’s Health in Wilmington.

Each year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrest events occur in the United States. Unfortunately, most people are unprepared to provide lifesaving aid to those experiencing a cardiac arrest. With the 2023-24 year having come to an end for the Caesar Rodney School District, I want to acknowledge two local schools that have made the Dover community safer and more prepared to respond if someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

Recently, Maj. George S. Welch Elementary School and Air Base Middle School became the first schools in Delaware to receive the “Heart Safe School” designation through the Project ADAM initiative. Project ADAM is a national program that helps provide schools the resources to respond to sudden cardiac arrest.

To earn the “Heart Safe School” designation, the schools worked closely with Nemours Children’s Health, the state’s Project ADAM affiliate, to complete a comprehensive training process. Experts from Nemours Children’s supported the schools with the development of a cardiac emergency response plan, CPR training and instruction on how to use automated external defibrillators. In addition, Nemours Children’s experts provided best practices on recognizing cardiac arrest, guidance on defibrillator placement and signage, while also observing cardiac arrest drills to hone and improve staff readiness and response.

According to the American Heart Association, early CPR and defibrillation can increase the likelihood of surviving cardiac arrest. With many instances of cardiac arrest occurring outside the hospital setting each year, increased bystander intervention can be the difference between life and death for many.

As medical director for the Delaware Project ADAM initiative, I applaud the schools’ leadership, nursing staff, teachers and students for all their effort to learn and refine these important skills and safety measures within the educational environment. As a cardiologist, I sleep better knowing that our kids, families, friends and neighbors have a better chance of receiving the critical aid and intervention they need in the event of a cardiac arrest.

As we continue working with schools as part of Project ADAM, I encourage those across the community and state to join efforts to implement measures that increase awareness and preparedness. Whether at school, your local recreation sports league or a community event, preparation today could help save a life tomorrow.

Thank you to Maj. George S. Welch Elementary School and Air Base Middle School for setting the example and blazing a trail in our state that I believe will undoubtedly lead to more prepared schools, safer communities and more positive outcomes for people who experience cardiac arrest.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at civiltalk@iniusa.org.

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