AEDs and Cardiac Emergency Response Plans in Schools

Sudden cardiac arrest is the #1 killer of student athletes and the leading cause of death on school campuses, though most schools are underprepared to respond to a cardiac emergency, in contrast to the ample time and resources invested in fire protection readiness. Every school must have a fire extinguisher and conduct fire drills, so given the statistics, why isn’t there a national standard for protecting young hearts at school?

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In response, an American Heart Association task force developed a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan (CERP) toolkit that empowers schools to be prepared for a cardiac emergency. As a co-member of this task force, Parent Heart Watch created Get Charged Up! to support putting this plan into action.

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The goals of the program are to model the importance of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and Cardiac Emergency Response Plans (CERP) in schools to prevent sudden cardiac death, and to familiarize administrators, educators, school nurses, coaches and parents about the role they can plan to champion prevention in their school community.

The program typically launches each October during Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, with participating schools announced by February during Heart Month. Parent Heart Watch then works with the schools to implement a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan by May, which is also Physical Education and Sports Month.

Based on available resources, program participants may receive an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for their school, or be invited to participate in a contest to win an AED. Specific program parameters are posted here by October 1 each year with a link to an application. If the link isn’t visible on this page, check back for updates.

In general, applicants must:


  • represent an elementary, middle, high or combined school in the continental U.S. (excluding Alaska & Hawaii)
  • complete an online registration form (portal opens October 1)
  • confirm school administration is committed to the program
  • participate in a 30-minute orientation webinar
  • establish a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan as per the toolkit provided
  • form a Cardiac Emergency Response Team that is or becomes CPR/AED certified
  • use the CERP template to personalize the plan to your school
  • schedule drills to test school readiness to act on the plan
  • communicate with your school community about SCA awareness, the new AED and CERP
  • submit report upon completion of the CERP by May 31
  • share a photo of the program in action (e.g. installing AED, CERP team meeting, CPR training, staff development re: SCA, drill)

If a video contest is part of the program:


  • submit a three-minute video about why the school needs an AED, where it will be placed and how you’ll raise awareness of SCA prevention in your school community Video Guidelines
  • properly install and maintain the AED as per recommended guidelines (which includes costs to replace battery and pads as directed)

Get more information on Cardiac Emergency Response Plans and AEDs. Click here to contact us with your questions.

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Parent Heart Watch shares our drive to promote health literacy among our students. They have been an excellent resource on sudden cardiac arrest prevention in youth, and have piloted a successful partnership to engage health and physical educators in championing cardiac emergency response plans in schools. We look forward to their continued collaboration to protect young hearts.

Joe Halowich, Senior Program Manager, SHAPE America

The Get Charged Up! Program has been a wonderful resource for our high school. Not only have we been provided a brand new AED for participating in the pilot program, we have been given so much pertinent training and educational materials on sudden cardiac arrest. We also received a helpful toolkit outlining how to set up a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan for our school and guidance in disseminating sudden cardiac awareness prevention information to our staff, school community and parent groups. Many thanks to Parent Heart Watch, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, NASN, and so many others who developed this life saving system for schools!

Margie Blackmon, MSN, RN, Mount Si High School Nurse, Snoqualmie Valley School District

NASN is pleased to join forces with Parent Heart Watch with their launch of Get Charged Up. Often the first indication of an abnormal heart rhythm is a sudden cardiac arrest. The Cardiac Emergency Response Plan, which includes quick access to an automatic external defibrillator will save lives. PHW helps school nurses educate students and families and in the event of an emergency, more first responders will be prepared with rapid access to the AED.

Beth Mattey, MSN, RN, NCSN, Past President, National Association of School Nurses