Fall Research Expo 2020

Evaluation of the Cardiac Emergency Preparedness of Philadelphia's Parks and Recreation Centers

At a time where a pandemic has seized everyone’s attention, especially healthcare professionals, it is very challenging to divert some focus towards an issue, Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD), that claims the lives of more than 7000 children and 350,000 adults annually in our country alone. Over the course of 10 weeks, I had the opportunity to work with and learn from the Youth Heart Watch (YHW) team, led by Dr. Victoria Vetter, at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). Our main goal for this summer was to make the Philadelphia Recreation Center Heart Safe by making sure each center had functioning Automatic External Defibrillators (AED), which coupled with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can prevent SCD after a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

At the beginning of our study, only 23 of the 153 rec centers in Philadelphia had fully functioning AEDs. Usually 130 of these centers hold summer camps for kids, but the opening of these camps was delayed to July 6 due to the quarantine. Our team was informed of this opening very close to the start date, which necessitated an urgent response to the AED insufficiency. Our research coordinators went to each active recreation center replacing any expired components, batteries, adult pads, and providing AEDs to centers that did not have a functioning one. I, along with my PURM partner, contacted centers to collect information on the status of their AEDs to determine what components needed to be replaced. By the end of our study, our team successfully ensured that every active center had a fully functioning AED. Following that, we transferred the data collected to a REDCap database. In addition to our work and meetings, Dr. Vetter hosted weekly lectures on topics that were essential for our understanding of this study, such as the cause of SCA and SCD, the history and progress of CPR/AEDs, how AEDs works to identify abnormal rhythms specifically Ventricular Fibrillation or Tachycardia, and my personal favorite how to read/interpret electrocardiograms (ECGs/EKGs).

I was able to become CPR certified through a virtual training hosted by one of our research coordinators, which was made significantly easier because I was provided with a CPR manikin and pads to simulate using an AED. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work on compiling and transferring patient demographic and test (ECHO) data. Despite of the limitations imposed by Covid, Dr. Vetter and the YHW team was able to include us in every step of the project. I will be applying the skills I learned from this experience, specifically CPR, using AEDs and reading ECG as I go through my EMT training and practices over the next year. Moreover, Dr. Vetter’s intersectional work in the public health sector and Cardiology provides a great understanding of the importance for interdisciplinary care, which includes people, potential bystanders to a SCA,  who are trained to perform CPR and use AEDs; it is something I hope to carry on as an aspiring Cardiologist.

PURM - Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program
College of Arts & Sciences 2023
Join Abenezer for a virtual discussion
PURM - Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program
College of Arts & Sciences 2023


Great job Abenezer and Sophie!  Conducting research that relies on human response and interaction can be quite difficult.  Did you face any issues with non-respondents to your phone surveys?  And as a separate question--do you have any data for how often the AEDs or (rec staff trained for SCA emergencies) have been utilized since they were gifted to PPR by the police & fire 10-20years ago?

Hello Abenezer!

Great job with the poster, especially dealing with the limiting aspects of the COVID pandemic and still being able to fulfill your research. I was wondering if there are any written plans on replacing AEDS regularly in the future in case the same problem occurs again but this time there might not be volunteers and researchers like yourself to come and replace the outdated parts?

Hi Abenezer, this work is really great and beneficial to the Philadelphia recreational centers. I read that the AED batteries and pads must be replaced before the 10-year mark when the AED itself must be replaced. Do you know of any plans to have these replacements made available to the facilities that received AEDs. 

This is really interesting and important research! Your poster mentions that your team was considering ways to teach CPR and AED usage to the rec center staff virtually. I was just wondering if you plan to do this, and if so, how will you go about it?

Great job Abenezer! Super proud of the work that you have accomplished for the Philadelphia recreational centers. Can you tell me more about what this project will look like in the future and if there are any plans to extend this support to other states and communities? 

Amazing job Abenezer and Sophie! As an EMT, I very much appreciate this work! Are you planning on expanding your inventory to areas outside of Philadelphia?