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Students Trained
Teacher uses CPR to save his brother’s life

It was a beautiful July day, the perfect day for a round of golf. Mario, his brother Al and a cousin were at the Vancouver Golf Course preparing to tee-off just before lunchtime.

Mario was watching his cousin take his first shot; but when he turned back to his brother, he found Al on the ground, dazed and holding his chest. “I felt really, really dizzy,” reflects Al. “I remember going down on one knee, then hitting the turf.”

“I just kind of reacted,” explains Mario. “I yelled ‘Hey, it’s an emergency!’ There were a bunch of people standing around the tee-off spot, about 30 yards from the clubhouse. I yelled ‘Help! Help! There’s an emergency! It’s a cardiac emergency!’ Then I yelled ‘Bring an AED!’”

As a phys ed teacher at Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Mario regularly teaches lifesaving skills to Grade 10 students. Each year, students learn CPR and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) with the training units donated through the ACT High School CPR and AED Program. Now, Mario was using the CPR skills he teaches to save his brother, who had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

A proctologist was having lunch at the golf course and rushed to help. “He checked his vitals and said to me ‘Do you know how to do CPR?’” says Mario. Mario began compressions while the clubhouse’s AED was brought out and a shock was administered. By then, paramedics began arriving at the scene and within 30 minutes of his collapse, Al was at the hospital where he underwent bypass surgery.

Looking back, the brothers agree it has left them with a different outlook on things. “Al is 55 but I joked that his first birthday is coming up – he’s got a whole new lease on life,” Mario laughs.

“I’m happy Mario knew what to do,” says Al, whose recovery has allowed him to return to his normal activities. Mario credits his CPR training: “I reacted because I’m trained, I know what to do. I’ve always been an advocate of a healthy lifestyle. Now I’ve become an advocate of AEDs in public buildings – you just never know!”

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is a national charitable organization that has empowered 2.9 million youth across Canada to save lives. The ACT High School CPR Program was first introduced to Riverside Secondary School in 2006 thanks to the support of community partner Envision Credit Union Charitable Foundation. In 2013, the program was enhanced with the addition of the ACT High School Defibrillator Training Program, which was made possible in the Tri-Cities area with RBC’s support.

ACT is working in partnership with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) paramedics and staff, and community partners to bring this program to all of British Columbia’s public standard secondary schools. AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi are ACT’s health partners in B.C. and across Canada; they are committed to the Foundation’s goal of promoting health while ensuring lifesaving skills become basic life skills for generations of Canadians.