An ironic chain of events led to an unusual rescue story for Marcia, a high school teacher in Kingston. It began on a winter evening when Marcia was out for dinner. “I noticed an elderly couple having a lively chat over a glass of wine. I was struck by their delightful chemistry, so much so that I paid them compliments on a paper napkin, and anonymously paid for their dinner,” says Marcia.
A few months later, Marcia’s father-in-law tragically passed away from sudden cardiac arrest. No citizen CPR was available for him. Before leaving to meet her husband to help with funeral arrangements, Marcia called her dad, asking him to join her for dinner. At the restaurant, the same as previous, by coincidence, the same elderly couple was again having dinner. However, this time, there was a commotion and Marcia quickly realized the gentleman had collapsed and needed help.
She ran to the man’s side as a server was calling 9-1-1 and people were gathered around.
Marcia is trained in CPR by the ACT High School CPR and AED Program and has taught her students the same lifesaving skills she was about to use herself. “Three of us actually stepped in,” says Marcia. “Another woman checked to see if he was breathing. When we realized he wasn’t (and in cardiac arrest), I started doing chest compressions while another person gave breaths”. Marcia also sent someone to look for an AED but there wasn’t one available.
When EMS arrived, they asked Marcia to continue CPR while they quickly went to work with more lifesaving procedures. The man regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital.
The day after returning to work subsequent to her father-in-laws funeral, a colleague of Marcia’s convinced her to seek out the man whose life she had helped save with CPR. “I went to the hospital that evening and met his daughter and wife and was deeply moved,” she recalls. They were also able to share the irony of meeting again after having Marcia purchase them dinner simply because “they were the cutest couple ever” a few months earlier.
Marcia urges everyone to learn CPR. “Anyone can do it,” she says. “The CPR act itself isn’t complicated, but its impact can be profound.”
Although the man passed away a few weeks later, the family was profoundly grateful to have had the time to spend last moments with their father and husband and say their goodbyes.
The ACT Foundation set up the High School CPR and AED Program in Regiopolis Notre Dame Catholic High School where Marcia works as a teacher. ACT’s provincial partners are the Government of Ontario and Hydro One and ACT’s national health partners are AstraZeneca Canada, Sanofi Canada and Amgen Canada.
The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is the award-winning, national charitable organization establishing free CPR and defibrillator 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. ACT is honoured to be recognized by the Governor General of Canada with the Meritorious Service Cross presented to ACT’s Executive Director Sandra Clarke, and Medical Director and emergency physician Dr Justin Maloney in relation to the ACT High School CPR Program. More than 3.9 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.