It was early July in 2001 and the Ottawa physical education teacher was staying with his wife, three children and several friends at North Rustico Motel and Cottages in P.E.I., just a short drive from Charlottetown.
They were having a barbecue by the in-ground pool as other vacationers settled in, eager to take in the sunshine. Silvano says a family from Newfoundland had just arrived and, likely motivated by the hot weather, the father immediately headed to the pool with his four children.
Not long after, he heard the man’s cries for help coming from the crowded water.
Silvano remembers there was a dividing rope between the deep and shallow ends, but it didn’t do what it was put there to do. “His four-year-old son had crossed into the deep end and was completely submerged,” he says.
Silvano was closest to the boy and reacted quickly. “I was able to grab him from the side of the deck,” he says. “I checked for vitals. He had a pulse, but he wasn’t breathing.”
Trained to teach CPR to his Grade 9 students through the ACT High School CPR Program at Ottawa’s Sacred Heart High School, Silvano knew what to do. “The first thing I did was look, listen, and feel. I started breathing for him right away,” he says.
The young boy coughed up water and started breathing on his own. He was then taken to hospital.
Six hours later, the boy’s family returned from the hospital with their son. They thanked Silvano for his quick reaction.
“You never know when it’s going to happen to you,” says Silvano, adding he has since set firm rules for his own family when they’re near the water. “You must be within sight and wear your life jackets,” he says.
Having used his knowledge in CPR and first aid several times over the years, Silvano says the most important thing when faced with an emergency is to react.
“Sometimes you may forget steps, but the priority is to get the person back to life,” he says.
The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible at Sacred Heart High School thanks to generous community and provincial-level support which enabled the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources. The lead community partner in Ottawa is the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa. The print partner which donates the printing of the student manual is the Ottawa Citizen. Provincial partners of the program are the Government of Ontario, Hydro One, Shoppers Drug Mart, and The Ontario Trillium Foundation.
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 other 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 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.
Core partners supporting the program in Ontario 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.