September 24, 2011 in Washington Voices

EV gets cardiac arrest life-saver

Defibrillator donated as part of Project Adam
By The Spokesman-Review
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Registered nurse Ryan Schaeffer, right, of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, explains the automated external defribrillator as East Valley High School Principal Jeff Miller, rear, and ASB president Cody Griffith listen.
(Full-size photo)

Key facts

Symptoms of cardiac arrest

The four main symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are sudden collapse, no pulse, no breathing and a loss of consciousness. Other symptoms may occur prior to the attack such as shortness of breath, fainting, blackouts, chest pains, dizziness, palpitations or other symptoms.

Steps to saving a life

According to, there are three steps to help save the life of someone suffering from sudden cardiac arrest:

1. Call 911

2. Perform CPR

3. Use a portable defibrillator

East Valley High School, 15711 E. Wellesley Ave., now has a new automated external defibrillator in its lobby if the unthinkable happens.

Project Adam was founded in Wisconsin after several student athletes suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died after they participated in sports. Sudden cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack, said Ryan Schaefer, a registered nurse and the Project Adam coordinator from Sacred Heart Medical Center. It affects the electricity of the heart, causing it to stop pumping. If a defibrillator is used in the first few minutes after the attack, the patient has a much better chance of survival.

“It really is a life-saving tool,” Schaefer said.

The defibrillator at East Valley was paid for by a grant from the Sacred Heart Children’s Foundation. Each costs $1,450 and includes a case to mount on the wall, an alarm to notify officials when it has been opened and a yearly inspection to make sure it is working properly.

Schaefer said in order to receive a defibrillator, schools must select a site coordinator and develop a process to train staff members and students on CPR and operating the device. Then the school must develop an emergency action plan to use in case someone needs help.

He said for every 100 students who attend the school, there should be at least one staff member trained in both CPR and the AED.

Project Adam is a national program active in nine states across the country and Sacred Heart is the only affiliate on the West Coast. Schaefer said the program has provided defibrillators as far north as Northport High School and as far south as Garfield-Palouse High School. He estimates they have installed around 20 to 25 devices throughout the region.

“Schools are really a community place,” Schaefer said, which is why the program distributes the defibrillators to so many schools.

East Valley Principal Jeff Miller said that community is as large as 1,500 students and teachers during the school day, 2,000 people during school basketball games and 4,000 during football games.

“We have the potential to save someone’s life,” Miller said.

The device is fairly easy to use, Schaefer said. If there is a victim of sudden cardiac arrest, anyone trained in CPR and the defibrillator should open the patient’s shirt and attach the pads to his or her chest. After that, the device will walk the user through the instructions.

Schaefer delivered the device Wednesday and was greeted by Miller, Athletic Director Joe Kostecka, School Nurse Ginny Knowles and ASB President Cody Griffith. Griffith said he will tell his fellow ASB officers about the device to help spread the word.

“Joe Kostecka was instrumental in pushing ahead with training,” Miller said.

The school plans to put it next to the ATM in the lobby of the school, close to the cafeteria and the gym.

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