Posted by William Selzer
Jodi Wenzel, Project Coordinator for the ADAM Project has practiced as a pediatric nurse at Childrens Wisconsin Hospital for 15 years. At the Friday meeting she shared her passion, knowledge of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and the evolution of the ADAM Project. 
In 1999, a 17-year-old athlete, Adam Lemel, collapsed by sudden cardiac arrest while playing basketball. CPR was started and 911 called. At that time there were no AEDs available at the school, or a practice plan in place. EMS personnel arrived and were unable to revive Adam… he passed away on the court. As a result of the tragic loss of their son, Joe and Patty Lemel worked with Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin to develop Project ADAM (Automatic Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory). Lumel’s continuing to advocate for Project ADAM, keeping Adam’s memory alive and his legacy has prevented over 200 sudden cardiac deaths.
What is a Sudden Cardiac Arrest? It occurs when there is an electrical problem with the heart, and it stops beating. It is different from a heart attack, where there is a circulation problem linked to a blocked cardiac artery. To start the heart up again, an electrical impulse provided by an AED along with good quality CPR is needed. An AED will only provide a shock if there is a shockable rhythm.  
Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest survivable? “Survival can be as high as 90% if treatment starts within the first minutes after sudden cardiac arrest. The rate drops by 10% each minute longer. Sudden cardiac arrest can be fatal if it lasts longer than eight minutes without CPR. Brain damage can happen after just five minutes.” The time window is small… though having an incident plan, calling 911, initiating CPR, and having an AED available can save lives.
With a mission and vision to save lives by empowering schools and communities to be prepared for a sudden cardiac arrest, and to eradicate sudden cardiac death through school and community prevention, these goals can be attained via this great program.
The ADAM Project, led by Children’s Wisconsin, the Herma Heart Institute, and hospital systems provides 42 programs across 32 states, advocates for:
  • Heart Safe Schools – providing a practice plan to include CPR/AED training and available AEDs in the event of a SCA at the school.
  • Heart Safe Community Sites – provide AEDs in parks and community gathering sites.
  • Heart Safe Youth Sports – provides AEDs where youth sporting events are held.
By adding CPR training and AEDs to our schools and throughout our communities, Sudden Cardiac Arrest deaths can be significantly reduced.
If you are confronted with using an AED, follow the prompts and “know that the AED won’t let you harm the cardiac victim”.
To learn more about the Project ADAM program, visit
Jodi, thank you for sharing your experiences about Project ADAM, and the need for everyone to have a SCA plan and be CPR/AED trained.