(New Carlisle, IN) - A La Porte County School has become the first Heart Safe certified school in Indiana. New Prairie High School achieved the distinction this week after running a Sudden Cardiac Arrest drill. Wisconsin-based Project ADAM issues the certification based on a fourteen-point checklist of medical emergency precautions.
According to New Prairie Biomedical Science Teacher Tonya Aerts, this week’s drill was the culmination of two years' worth of planning and training, particularly with her Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) group. Students and staff had been trained on what to do in the case of a sudden cardiac emergency. Paramedics were on call to make the simulation more realistic. "Our drill took, from the moment the student collapsed to the moment the EMS was inside with the gurney, four and a half minutes," she said, "and the defibrillator was on the student who collapsed within a minute."
Aerts was pleasantly surprised how students rose to the occasion. "I thought that staff would get there first and then take over," she said, "but it was actually two of the girls that were just walking by that jumped in and took over, and the students totally ran the show."
Aerts said New Prairie has nine AED emergency units— five inside the school and four outside for athletics. She’s now working on getting other school buildings in the district equipped and certified.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of deaths among high school athletes in America.
Aerts said her school’s efforts this week were, in part, a tribute to Mark Mayfield, a New Prairie senior who died of a heart attack in a school hallway back in 2017. Mayfield's mother was on hand at this week's drill, along with Julie West and Teresa Mago, who have also lost teenage sons to sudden cardiac arrest.
Aerts and her HOSA group are working closely with the Play for Jake Foundation and the Zack Mago Foundation to increase awareness and provide life-saving equipment, training, and proper heart screening in the area. For more information on heart safety initiatives and opportunities, check out the links below.