Children's Hospital Colorado

Project ADAM Colorado: Preparing for Cardiac Emergencies in Schools

A close-up of a stethoscope on a patient's chest. Best Children's Hospital by US News Cardiology 2020-1 Badge

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we believe that prevention is just as important as treatment. Preventing the deaths of high school students due to cardiac emergencies is the passion behind the Project ADAM Colorado. Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) began with the preventable death of a high school student. 

Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old athlete, collapsed during a high school basketball game. His death, along with a series of other students, could have been prevented if an automated external defibrillator (AED) was available.

Outreach coordinators at Children’s Colorado are acting on the goals and vision of Project ADAM to make AEDs available and to help implement pediatric Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) programs in Colorado schools. Colorado is among 12 states who are participating in this prevention project.

Project ADAM® Vision

Project ADAM® Colorado is a program committed to helping schools implement and sustain a PAD program. Our goals are to:

  • Increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest (an abnormal heart beat that can cause death)
  • Provide staff with the necessary resources to best prepare for a cardiac emergency
  • Offer guidance for conceptualization and planning a program in your school
  • Assist with acquiring training in CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) use
  • Collaborate with staff on the development of an emergency response plan

Ensuring public access to defibrillation

Cardiac emergencies can happen at any time, on any day and to anyone. AEDs with trained emergency responders benefit students, teachers, staff, volunteers and visitors. Schools that participate in Project ADAM® get education and support while they develop a Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program. Implementing a PAD program, like Project ADAM, provides victims of cardiac emergencies a chance at survival.

What is sudden cardiac arrest?

The American Heart Association defines cardiac arrest as when the heart's electrical system malfunctions. In cardiac arrest, death results when the heart suddenly stops working properly. This may be caused by abnormal, or irregular, heart rhythms (called arrhythmias).

A common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This occurs when the heart's lower chambers start to beat uncontrollably and the heart stops pumping blood. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (commonly referred to as CPR) and the use of a defibrillator can return the heart to a normal rhythm quickly.

What is an AED and why do we need them?

AEDs are devices that are used to shock a heartbeat from abnormal back to normal. The shift is due to an electrical shock from the device. The shock stops the abnormal heart beat which enables the heart to return to regular rhythm, preventing cardiac arrest.

If a shock is administered to the heart within 3-5 minutes of an episode, it can save a life. Every minute that the heart beats with an irregular rhythm, survival rates drop by 10%. AED’s save lives quickly and effectively.

Contact us to get started

To begin Project ADAM Colorado at your school or for more information, contact the Project ADAM® Colorado coordinator at 720-777-3872 or We look forward to working with you on this lifesaving initiative.

Additional resources and education materials



Educational materials:

CPR training sites:

Related organizations

Learn more about the Heart Institute.

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