On a September morning, Serge, a teacher from Saint-Tite, was headed towards the back of the school with his students for a 1K run. Well before finishing their run, a few of his students rushed towards Serge to let him know that they have seen a man collapse near the school. “I did not know what to expect,” recalls Serge. Upon his arrival at the scene, Serge saw the man sitting behind the wheel of his car. Although conscious, the man was not fully coherent. “He told me he was fine and that he had just lost balance”.
Feeling that something was not right, the teacher decided to take the man’s pulse. Not long after, the man, who was around 70 years old, went into cardiac arrest. Serge knew he had to react quickly. He pulled the man out of his car and carefully laid him on the ground, placing his coat under his head in order to keep it safe. With the cell phone of a bystander, he dialled 911 and put the operator on speaker phone. “From there on, I moved ahead of the steps instructed by the emergency dispatch operator. The CPR classes that I teach to my students and the training that I have received from ACT came back to me. It felt like a state of trance, I relentlessly continued performing the compressions. When something like this happens, you find yourself in a strange state of mind.”
It did not take long for the paramedics to arrive. Serge continued the compressions until the two paramedics were prepared for the takeover. “The work by the paramedics was outstanding. They communicated the entire time,” affirms Serge. Using their defibrillator, the paramedics administered two shocks to the man, while continuing to perform CPR.
When the man, still unconscious, was transported to the hospital, Serge was full of emotions. “There were so many questions on my mind: What did I just do? Did I do it right? Did I react quickly enough? No one is there to let you know if you did a good job.” Thankfully, all is well that ends well. “When the paramedics told me that the man was alive, I was so excited! I was crying and laughing at the same time. I felt very happy with how I have reacted!”
As a result of this experience, Serge has the certainty that he knows how to react, and that he can react. He remains modest about his act. “I did something that anyone could have done.” In 2009, Serge was trained as a CPR instructor through the ACT High School CPR Program, which he has ever since been teaching to his students. He tells his students: “I hope that it never happens to you, but the reality is that it can happen not only to a stranger, but also to a person very close to you. It can happen to your sister, your mother, your grandfather. This is why you have to be prepared and ready to react.”
The ACT High School CPR program was set up in Paul-Le-Jeune High School thanks to the support provided by the Government of Quebec. ACT’s health partners supporting the program in Saint-Tite, throughout Quebec and across Canada are AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi Canada. They provide ACT’s sustaining funding and are committed to the Foundation’s national goal of promoting health and empowering Canadians to save lives.
The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR and AED training programs in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins and teacher training to schools, and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Over 3.2 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.