Project ADAM Inland Northwest: A Program to Prevent Sudden Death in Washington Schools

Chris Anderson, MD
Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease
Program Director, Project ADAM Inland Northwest
Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a tragedy in any situation. When it affects a young person, it is devastating to everyone involved. The causes of SCD in the young are many and varied, often genetic, but still may be isolated to one family member.  SCD can occur without warning even in a previously asymptomatic young person.1 Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) is a national, non-profit organization committed to saving lives through advocacy, education, preparedness and collaboration to prevent SCD in our schools. Focused prevention training and education ensures schools and communities are both trained and equipped for the prevention of SCD.

Project ADAM began in 1999 after the death of Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old from Wisconsin, collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest while playing basketball at school.  Placement of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) was the cornerstone of the program. It takes more than just having an AED on site to prevent SCD, however. The program must also provide needed support for schools to have emergency action plans in place, maintain their AEDs, and establish AED drills to ensure that school personnel are equipped to deal with such an emergency if and when it occurs.

Project ADAM Inland Northwest began in 2009 as a partnership between Providence Foundation and the schools of the inland Northwest. The program has grown to provide support for 137 schools, including providing the schools 129 AEDs, maintenance support, and medical directorship for the schools’ AED programs.  The program already has helped to prevent four sudden deaths in our schools in the region. Our goal is to have 100% survival for all arrhythmia-related sudden cardiac arrests occurring in schools.

Pediatricians should be aware of Project ADAM as a means of secondary prevention to treat SCD in our youth, which while uncommon, can present in a previously healthy young person without warning. Visit our website to learn more about Project ADAM:


1.  Ackerman M, Atkins DL, Triedman JK. Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young, Circulation 2016; 133 (10): 1006-26.