Heart Safe School Accreditation among topics presented at annual SADS Conference

Nearly 200 people attended the Seventh Annual Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) International Conference in Columbus on Nov. 1-3. The conference, which was hosted by the SADS Foundation, Fairfield Medical Center’s Snider Community Heart Watch and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, featured regionally-, nationally- and internationally-recognized experts in ion channelopathy care, regional healthcare practitioners and affected/concerned families.

“The SADS Foundation was thrilled to hold our 7th Annual International SADS Foundation Conference: Preventing Unexpected Sudden Death in the Young in Columbus in the early part of November,” said President and CEO Alice Lara. “We felt extremely welcome and are delighted we were able to reach so many families with SADS conditions, as well as medical professionals with the most current research, prevention and treatments. Our genuine gratitude is extended to Fairfield Medical Center, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and all of the speakers and volunteers who made this conference possible. It was a huge success!”

Bob Williams, supervisor of FMC’s cardiovascular services, and Sarah McGraw-Thimmes, school health coordinator for Lancaster City Schools, were among the speakers at the conference. Williams and McGraw-Thimmes spoke about the importance of the Heart Safe School Accreditation, a collaborative effort between SADS, the FMC Gordon B. Snider Cardiovascular Institute and the Snider Community Heart Watch at FMC. Schools have to meet seven criteria to achieve the accreditation, which is designed to ensure the safety of students and staff who may suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

During the event, Williams discussed how the Snider Community Heart Watch led a community assessment in late 2011 in which it visited or contacted schools in Fairfield County to determine their level of preparedness in responding to a medical or cardiac emergency.

“We had schools that did not do any type of risk assessment,” he said. “There were no care plans on file. AEDs, if they were in the school, may have been locked in a principal’s office that you had to go through three locked doors to get to.”

Five schools in Fairfield County are now Heart Safe School accredited – two in Lancaster and three in Pickerington. Three more schools have sent in applications for accreditation and 20 more are working on the accreditation, McGraw-Thimmes said.

The Heart Safe School Accreditation is something Cindy Trotter of Grantville, Georgia feels is extremely important. Trotter attended the conference with her 7-year-old daughter, Lisa Trotter, who was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome two years ago after she suddenly collapsed while waiting for the ice cream truck.

“I believe in the Heart Safe School Accreditation,” said Trotter, who noted her daughter’s school has AED’s throughout the building and staff members trained in CPR. “No one thinks it will happen to you until it happens to you.”

The SADS Foundation, founded in 1991, works closely with associated medical professionals and families who are genetically predisposed to sudden death due to heart rhythm abnormalities. Through awareness, education, advocacy and research, the SADS Foundation is dedicated to saving the lives and supporting the families of children and young adults.

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