Lincoln Children’s Museum recognized for its cardiac emergency preparedness

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Wednesday, the Lincoln Children’s Museum became the first organization in Nebraska that isn’t a school to be designated as Heart Safe.

Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, even a child.

Knowing that, the museum reached out to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory).

Project ADAM gives the Heart Safe designation to organizations that have the appropriate training, equipment and systems in place to respond to cardiac emergencies.

“You do this for schools, but an organization like ours could participate and go through this training because we serve youth here,” said Mandy Haase-Thomas, the museum’s director of operations and engagement.

Time is crucial during a cardiac event, and that’s why Project ADAM started.

The project was named after Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old Wisconsin boy who suffered a fatal sudden cardiac arrest in 1999 while playing basketball at school.

Adam’s family knows that access to an AED and immediate care could have saved his life.

More than 200 lives have been saved through Project ADAM, according to its Nebraska coordinator, Kimberly Castellano.

“And that increases all the time,” she said. “The reason we think that increases is because schools or sites are responding. Because of that, they have a chance to make it to the hospital. It used to be that they couldn’t make it to the hospital.”

Castellano has personal ties to this issue, suffering from a cardiac arrest herself.

“I am a long-time cardiac patient,” she said. “I’ve been at Children’s Hospital as a patient for 58 years, so this was my passion. I retired from education and decided to go back and give back to the people that saved me. This just warms my heart, literally.”

Since 1999, more than 4,000 schools across the country have achieved a Heart Safe designation, but Project ADAM said there’s still more work to be done.

“When you think about first aid, CPR, administering an AED, that can be a scary situation for some people,” Haase-Thomas said. “One of the top things we learned is just do something because doing nothing could be fatal.”

And as the first non-school organization in the state to earn this title, Lincoln Children’s Museum does not want to be the only one.

By the end of the announcement, Lincoln challenged the Omaha’s Children Museum to take charge of becoming Heart Safe next.

Children’s Hospital became affiliated with Project ADAM in 2022.

Their goal now is to welcome more than a dozen Nebraska schools and organizations over the next year, including baseball and football clubs.

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