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Palisades High School recognized as “Heart Safe School”


With local, state, and national accolades continuing to roll in for its academic, athletic, performing arts, and other programs, the Palisades School District has now begun the process of earning a “Heart Safe” designation for each of its schools

At the Feb. 15 school board meeting, Lindsey Flanagan, program coordinator for Youth Heart Watch, an affiliate of Project Adam at Children’s Hospital (CHOP) of Philadelphia, recognized Palisades High School as a Heart Safe School, in a presentation to Principal Rich Heffernan and School Nurse Heather Page. The district is now continuing toward earning the designation for its four other schools; becoming the third Heart Safe district in the county; and potentially the fifth in the state.

In her presentation, Flanagan, recalling the extraordinary and effective first response received by pro football player Damar Hamlin in his nationally televised cardiac arrest, asked “what would have happened if he was a high school athlete, or a student in gym class, or a staff member walking down the hall? Youth Heart Watch works with school districts like Palisades to help ensure that students, staff, and families who set foot on their campuses are all given the same chance of survival if they experience a cardiac arrest.”

Noting the high school staff had been working on achieving the Heart Safe designation “long before many of you even knew Damar Hamlin’s name,” Flanagan recalled she had been “able to attend a practice drill in January, and was very impressed by the team’s strong communication and efficiency in implementing each piece of the response. Youth Heart Watch is confident that the staff here at the high school know how to respond to a cardiac emergency and are prepared to save a life.”

In an email after the meeting, Flanagan provided the 14-item checklist outlined by Project Adam toward earning the Heart Safe designation. The list covers: adequate placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for reliable access within two to three minutes, with a special first responder kit near or attached; CPR-AED site coordinators, overseeing a designated cardiac emergency response team comprised of at least 10 percent of staff; a written response plan, reviewed annually; an emergency communication code for both internal and outside local responders, who have also been made aware of the plan; additional sharing of the plan with extracurricular activities, community groups, and summer programs; training that is updated and tracked annually for the response team, as well as the rest of faculty and staff; and at least one emergency response drill.

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