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On a January evening, Roger, 50, was taking part in a weekly recreational hockey game at North Bay’s Memorial Gardens. With only 10 players available, it was a lively game with fast shifts.
But that evening, Roger noticed the chest pains he occasionally experienced were more present than ever. “I ended up with chest pains for most of the game,” explains Roger. “Not when I was playing hockey, but when I was coming off the ice. It felt like a knife was coming through my heart – it was a sharp pain, but didn’t last very long.”
“I was in denial, saying the pain will go away,” continues Roger. “I came off the ice for the last shift and remember thinking to myself that I knew something was going on. I bent over a bit and was telling myself ‘maybe I should go to the hospital’ because it was such a weird feeling! I bent over a bit more and just blacked out. I didn’t feel anything. And that’s when I went into cardiac arrest.”
Bruce was on the ice when he saw there was a commotion by the players’ bench. “I skated over and one of our players was down face-first on the bench,” says Bruce. “Everyone thought he had just tripped. But he was as blue as blue could be. Right away I recognised he was in trouble so I just took off for the lobby where I knew the defibrillator was.”
While Bruce ran in his skates to retrieve the lifesaving device, teammates called for 911 and started compressions. “I brought the defibrillator back and we opened it up. I was familiar with it through the training we had received at school, so I applied it to him. The defibrillator was telling us to stand back, and then it shocked him.”
Bruce, a school administrator, had learned how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in June 2012 through the ACT High School CPR and AED Program. The program was introduced to St Joseph-Scollard Hall Catholic Secondary School in 2011 with the support of ACT’s provincial partners, the Government of Ontario, Hydro One and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, as well as ACT’s national health partners: AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi.
“It shocked him once and he responded. He opened his eyes. We started talking to him and he was acknowledging our comments.” Roger was then taken to the hospital where doctors cleared a blockage from his arteries.
Roger has returned to a full and active lifestyle, which includes playing the game he loves. “He was back playing hockey about a month after,” says Bruce. “He’s in great shape! If we were to make a list of people on that ice that would be at risk, he would absolutely be at the bottom.” “I’m taking it maybe a little slower, or not going as hard as I was before — I went from a forward to a defenceman,” Roger laughs.
The experience has given Bruce and his school’s Phys Ed teachers a valuable real-life scenario to share with Grade 9 classes as they learn CPR. “I tell them my story and explain what happened, how important it is to have the training — it works, it saves lives.”
The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR and Defibrillator training 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 2.6 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.