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AED training plays key role in reviving young athlete

Sep. 9, 2020, 2:12 PM

High school track athlete Taylor Frost was revived by his coach and others just weeks after they had taken part in automated external defibrillator training provided by Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

by Jessica Pasley

A one-hour training session helped give Taylor Frost, 16, a lifetime of possibilities.

On Aug. 12, Frost, a member of the Jonathan Edwards Classical Academy cross country team, collapsed. Within minutes his coach and other responders from the Nashville school went into action.

Just two weeks prior they all had participated in automated external defibrillator (AED) training through Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory). Project ADAM is a national organization committed to making schools “heart safe” by preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children and teens through education and life-saving programs.

Taylor, unconscious and not breathing, had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

Thankfully, the team knew exactly what to do. Their quick response is credited with saving his life.

“It’s not enough to know where the AED is in a building,” said Angel Carter, RN, program coordinator for Project ADAM. “There has to be a planned response and intentional preparedness.

“When I received an email later that day to tell me that the training I gave this group helped them save one of their students’ lives and that ‘thank you’ wasn’t enough to express their gratitude … sometimes you just don’t have the words.

“We want more stories of survival like this. We want to ensure that schools, community organizations and youth sports groups are equipped.”

An AED is a portable electronic device that, when quickly and properly applied, can stabilize potentially life-threatening heart rhythms, including sudden cardiac arrest.

Children’s Hospital became an affiliate of Project ADAM in 2017 to focus on ensuring that schools and communities in Middle Tennessee are not only equipped with AEDs, but also trained in prevention measures.

Laura Potteiger, Taylor’s mother, is grateful for the program’s attention to intentional preparedness.

“The training the staff on campus received allowed them to quickly recognize what was happening and know how to address the situation. The way AEDs work, it recognized that Taylor needed to be shocked.

“Taylor is a healthy, 16-year-old. While he was in the hospital, doctors ran every test and there was nothing on the cellular or structural level they could point to as to why this happened. Basically, this should not have happened.

“What Taylor experienced was ventricular fibrillation and that is not compatible for sustaining life. The CPR compressions would not have jolted his rhythm back. It was the AED that did that,” his mother said.

Potteiger cited an American Heart Association statistic that each year in the United States about 7,000 children (younger than 18 years old) go into sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting, and approximately 11% survive.

“Because they had been trained, Taylor fell into that narrow window of 11% survival.”

Potteiger said she and her family want to begin working to highlight the efforts of the Project ADAM program at Children’s Hospital to help raise awareness of the need for community-wide preparedness in the event of emergencies such as the one Taylor experienced.

English Flack, MD, MS, assistant professor of Pediatric Cardiology and medical director of Project ADAM Middle Tennessee, said the presence of AEDs in schools and throughout the community, combined with people who are prepared to respond, is key to saving lives.

Her team developed training protocols following COVID-19 guidelines in order to continue providing necessary instruction to schools and sports teams in a safe environment.

“We figured out how to do training using social distancing and that paid off immediately,” said Flack. “What we heard from the teachers who responded was that they were prepared and empowered with the knowledge of what to do in an emergency.

“This is an example of where it worked. We want schools and communities to know that despite the pandemic and all of the new challenges in the way we do things, it is still important to find those ways to provide this service.”

For more information about Project ADAM go to www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org/projectadam.

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