One October morning, 19-year-old Samantha was relaxing at home after a week of demanding class work at York University in Toronto. Suddenly, she heard a loud crashing sound in the next room and heard her roommate Taylor yelling “Call 911, Dylan collapsed!”
Trying to remain calm, Samantha ran to the next room and found Dylan, her roommate’s boyfriend, unconscious on the floor. Samantha called 911 and a few seconds later Dylan’s breathing stopped, leading to cardiac arrest. The 911 operator asked Samantha if she knew CPR. She did and quickly began performing CPR on Dylan’s lifeless body.
“It was an automatic thing; I knew I had to do it (CPR). I didn’t really think,” remembers Samantha.
Samantha had learnt the lifesaving skill from her physical education teacher through the ACT High School CPR Program when she was in Grade 9 at East Elgin Secondary School in London, Ontario.
She continued to perform CPR on Dylan until the fire department and ambulance arrived and took over. The paramedics defibrillated Dylan and transported him to hospital.
Dylan survived his cardiac arrest and was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a rare condition that, the first sign of which in Dylan’s case, was sudden cardiac arrest. Neither he nor his parents had known about the condition.
A week after the incident, Dylan had surgery and is now back at school and doing fine. “I really can’t put it into words,” Dylan says, as he talks about Samantha’s actions that day. “She saved my life. If it wasn’t for Samantha knowing CPR, I could have been dead.”
The cardiologist who worked on Dylan upon his arrival at the hospital also lauds Samantha’s actions. “Early CPR is extremely important,” says Dr. Tiong. “Samantha played a very significant role in Dylan’s rescue.”
Samantha urges everyone to learn CPR. “You hope you will never have to use it but if you do, you’re going to be so happy that you know what to do. Things like this don’t just happen to young people, but to older people as well,” she says.
Samantha’s family is so proud and Dylan’s Mom is relieved: “Samantha didn’t panic; it was a miracle for Dylan having Samantha there and her knowing CPR.”
The ACT High School CPR Program was set up in Samantha’s high school in 2005, thanks to generous community and provincial-level support that enabled the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources. The lead community partners in London are GoodLife Fitness Clubs, Sterling Trucks and the CAW Local 1001, Charles H. Ivey Foundation, and the London Community Foundation. Provincial partners of the program are the Government of Ontario, Hydro One 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 and teacher training to schools, and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Over 1.8 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.
ACT’s national health partners supporting the program in Ontario and throughout Canada are: AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi. They provide ACT’s sustaining funding and are committed to the Foundation’s national goal of promoting health and empowering Canadians to save lives.