There was no school for Kathleen, on this Friday in April 2008. It was a pedagogical day and she was sitting on the sofa watching television when her father, who had come home for lunch, started to choke.
“I had the reflex to get up and check on him,” she says. “He turned around so I could do the Heimlich Manoeuvre. He knew that I would know what to do.”
Kathleen immediately began performing the Heimlich Manoeuvre on her father. “It didn’t work at first,” says Kathleen. She was nervous. She paused, calmed down, and started again. “It worked. The piece of meat came out.”
Kathleen had learned to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre a month earlier at École secondaire d’Iberville, in Rouyn-Noranda, through the ACT High School CPR Program. “I had a manual to read and my father had read it,” she says. “That’s why he knew that I would know what to do.
Jean-Marc, 53, had a particular interest in Kathleen’s manual. Not even a year before this incident, he had a heart attack while alone at his cabin. “I came close to dying last year – I was alone when I had my heart attack. This made me think of it again,” he says. “I had a chance once, and I was given another one. I guess it’s just not my time,” he adds. “It reminds us that life is only hanging by a thread.”
The ACT High School CPR Program is made possible in École secondaire d’Iberville thanks to generous community and provincial-level support which enables the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources. The lead community partner in Rouyn-Noranda is the Kiwanis Club of Rouyn-Noranda. Provincial partners of the program are the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Quebec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports, Sun Life Financial, and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. Community partners with a provincial scope are Hydro-Québec, McKesson Canada and Scotiabank.
The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and materials to schools, and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. Over 900,000 Canadian youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.
Core partners supporting the program in Quebec and throughout Canada are companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. They provide ACT’s sustaining funding and are committed to the Foundation’s national goal of promoting health and empowering Canadians to save lives.