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INDIANAPOLIS– Riley Hospital for Children is partnering with Indiana schools to become “heart safe.”

New Prairie High School is the first school in the Hoosier state to receive the recognition.

To become “heart safe,” New Prairie High School had to host a first responders day for rescue workers, hold presentations on the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest, develop a response plan and regularly train students and staff in CPR.

“We are part of an unfortunate statistic, we had a student die in our school,” said Tonya Aerts, a teacher at New Prairie High School. Aerts has been working towards the distinction for more than two years.

In 2017, a New Prairie High School student died of sudden cardiac arrest after a basketball game.

“I remember everyone gathered there with their flashlights and candles and it brought the community together but for such a bad cause,” said student Amira Bernard. “That’s really served as motivation for me as we’ve been working on these things because I don’t want another community to go through those things.”

Aerts said becoming “heart safe” means schools are more equipped and prepared to handle cardiac emergencies.

“We should be prepared, we shouldn’t wait for a tragedy to happen,” said former student Maddie Andrysiak.

“It is estimated that 350,000 [cardiac] events happen a year and there’s a 10% survival,” said Dr. Adam Kean, a cardiologist at Riley Hospital for Children. ”What Project Adam aims to do is decrease that response time. If we can get an AED within 2-3 minutes, the odds increase dramatically.”

Riley Hospital for Children partnered with New Prairie High School through Project Adam and hopes more central Indiana schools will get involved.

“Only cost is the time it takes for individuals to give of themselves for this important idea,” Dr. Kean said.