Remembering Dr. Justin Maloney, co-founder of ACT’s High School CPR Program

As co-founder of ACT’s High School CPR Program, Dr. Maloney’s unrelenting commitment and passion were key to ensuring millions of youth are empowered to save lives!

 

It is with deep sadness the ACT Foundation shares news of the passing of its National Medical Director and Board Chair, Dr. Justin Maloney, a passionate leader in emergency medicine.

As co-founder of ACT’s High School CPR Program, Dr. Maloney’s unrelenting commitment and passion were key to ensuring millions of youth are empowered to save lives! He had a deep passion for pre-hospital emergency medicine, a strong commitment to the power of the citizen in saving lives the important role youth have to play, and belief in the difference that one person can make.

Dr. Maloney along with ACT’s Executive Director Sandra Clarke was presented with the prestigious Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross in 2017 by former Governor General Julie Payette for their ground-breaking work in moving ACT’s High School CPR Program to the realm of a national standard in the Canadian educational system.

The ACT Foundation is deeply grateful for his commitment and service to the work of the organization as co-founder of the ACT High School CPR Program, and National Medical Director and Chair.

News Coverage:
https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/dr-justin-maloney-ottawa-s-father-of-paramedicine-has-died-1.5888736

Amgen Canada receives Community Champion Award

The ACT Foundation is proud to present Amgen Canada with ACT’s Community Champion Award in celebration of Amgen’s 5-year anniversary as a National Health Partner to the Foundation.

 

 

 

 

The ACT Foundation is proud to present Amgen Canada with ACT’s Community Champion Award in celebration of Amgen’s 5-year anniversary as a National Health Partner to the Foundation. ACT is honoured to bestow this award to a National Health Partner for assisting the Foundation as it strives to reach its goal that would see every Canadian high school student graduate with the skills and knowledge to save a life.

Through the work of the ACT Foundation in establishing free CPR training programs in Canadian high schools, more than 4.8 million students have been trained by their teachers to date, and many are saving lives in their communities.

In Canada, an estimated 35,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year. With 80 per cent of cardiac arrests occurring in homes and public places, empowering youth with CPR training as part of their high school education will help increase citizen CPR response rates and save lives.

“CPR is an essential life skill for all Canadians,” says Dr. Justin Maloney, an emergency physician at the Ottawa Hospital and ACT Foundation’s National Medical Director. “We are grateful for Amgen Canada’s continued support in helping the ACT Foundation bring this lifesaving program into Canadian high schools.”

Through the ACT High School CPR Program, students learn about the 4 ‘Rs’ of CPR. This includes Risk factor education on heart disease and stroke; how to Recognize a developing medical emergency like a heart attack, a cardiac arrest, or stroke; how to React including the importance of calling 911 and what to do until the ambulance arrives; and Resuscitate – CPR and how to use an AED. The program promotes students’ interest in science and health that can lead to enhanced career opportunities and help build Canadian innovation.

“Amgen is honoured to support the ACT Foundation for eight years to date and five years as a national health partner,” says Brian Heath, President of Amgen Canada. “The successful delivery of programs like this require collaboration. It is everyone’s responsibility to develop Canadian youth to be national and global citizens, equipped with the knowledge and skills to contribute meaningfully through their actions and behaviours. Together we take collective action to bridge the gap for Canadian students and help them make the connection between their interests and the value they can bring beyond the classroom.”

“We are proud to present the ACT Community Champion Award to Amgen Canada, whose support is so important to the ACT Foundation’s success in saving lives. We have made great strides with the support of our National Health Partners, along with our government, health, education, and community partners,” says Sandra Clarke, Executive Director and Founder of the ACT Foundation. “It is a wonderful example of a successful partnership between government, corporate citizens, a charitable foundation, and the community affecting positive change where we live, work, and play. By working together, we are making our communities healthier.”

CPR stops fictional Apocalypse in school

When learning CPR, people don’t usually think of using it in a situation involving zombies or an impending apocalypse – but that proved to be one teacher’s innovative way to reinforce the lesson to students at St. Johns School in St.Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC.

“Our main CPR component is taught in Secondary III (Grade 9) and again the following year,” says teacher Anthony McGuinness. “Then in Secondary V (Grade 11), we offer a two-class refresher course; by that time, it was getting repetitive so we sought to change things up.”
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McGuinness sought to capitalize on popular shows such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to inspire the students to take a more active participation. The result was an exercise dubbed “Zombie Apocalypse,” where students had to actively search for CPR practice mannequins that were hidden around the school.

“I came up with this idea and my colleague got on-board right away. We planned it out together and decided where to place the mannequins in the school, and who to involve,” explains McGuinness. “We approached the people we knew would be receptive.” The added benefit to getting broader participation is that it broadens awareness and serves as a refresher to others in the school beyond the students.

So how exactly does the simulation of a “Zombie Apocalypse” work? During the first of the two classes, McGuinness reviewed the theoretical and practical aspects of CPR with his students. Using peer feedback, the students were given ample time to practice.

Before the second class, participating staff members (teachers, administrators, support staff) hid CPR mannequins in various places throughout the school. The class was then split into groups of three, with each group given one of the school’s 10 iPods to film their resuscitation endeavours.
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The students sought out as many mannequins as they could find, whether in the cafeteria, the gym, the principal’s office – but always within view of a responsible person. The exercise took an interdisciplinary twist as Secondary III drama students, dressed as “real” zombies, lurked the school halls in search of survivors. When the students uncovered one of the mannequins, they had to transition to ensure each member of the group performed CPR, while the other teammate captured their efforts on video for evaluation. If a zombie approached a team as they were working on a mannequin, they had to abandon the mannequin, and find a new one. “The addition of the zombies was a huge hit, and the students have asked if we might be able to repeat the exercise once more before they graduate,” says Anthony.

The students then returned and submitted their iPods to the supervisors, who were armed with checklists to ensure all the right steps had been followed: each resuscitation had to include the right technique and all the steps necessary in accordance with the ACT CPR and AED Program. The staff reviewed the videos and determined if the resuscitation was sufficient to prevent the mannequins from “turning” into zombies – only by performing proper CPR techniques could the Apocalypse be prevented.

The ACT High School CPR Program was set up at St. Johns School in 2006, thanks to generous support of the Government of Quebec that enabled the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources.

ACT’s national health partners supporting the program in St.Jean-sur-Richelieu, throughout the province and across 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.

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR and AED 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. More than 2.9 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.
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Mississauga teacher trains a class of CPR leaders

Taylor, a health sciences teacher at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, has started a CPR campaign empowering her Grade 12 students. She teaches her students CPR and how to use a defibrillator. After their instruction, they go from classroom to classroom demonstrating the basics of CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

As a former ICU nurse, Taylor personally knows the importance of early CPR and use of a defibrillator to save lives. Her campaign to empower students has already shown results. Soon after Taylor’s class completed the CPR demonstrations, one of her students came in with news that she had saved a life using CPR while she was at work.

“She recognized the signs, so she stepped in and took action,” recounts Taylor. The student did CPR until the paramedics arrived and then thanked them for saving the man’s life. The paramedics turned to her and said, ‘No, you saved his life.’ I got goose bumps when she told me the story, I was almost in tears,” she says.

Taylor also believes that preventative education is highly important. “Just last year a student called 911 when her grandmother was having a stroke at the dinner table. The student alone recognized the signs and had the confidence to step up and say ‘We need to call the ambulance!’”

Taylor is able to offer this program to her students, “because ACT supports our program and because I have the tools to teach and the students can actually see it and practice it, it makes it more real, almost like a second nature for them,” says Taylor. She continues, “Practice makes perfect, practice makes us jump in and do something because we have the confidence.”

Taylor has seen the results of her work in the lives saved, “I’m passionate about the program, because as teachers we all want to know, are our students walking out of the school with life skills? Have we given them something they can use in their life other than textbook material?”

The real life application of these skills and the reach of the program is exponential, “The students will go out and share CPR with their families. A student can go home and talk to a family member, who talks to someone else, who may go to work and say, ‘maybe we should do CPR, and my kid says it’s easy’, ” says Taylor.

“The ability to save someone’s life is a skill that is invaluable,” states Taylor. Her contribution to her community is also invaluable and the result will be more lives saved.

ACT has presented Taylor with a Community Champion Award in 2011 for her continued support and passion for the program.

Alberta’s Star Press Inc. donates thousands of CPR teaching manuals to local schools

“It is very economical to help move this program forward, from my perspective,” said Roger. “We need confident young, citizens, and it is very easy for me to slide this through my plant and pick up the cost of the newsprint to help make that happen.”

The following communities are benefiting from Star Press Inc’s generous contribution:

1. Cold Lake
2. Consort
3. Coronation
4. Drumheller
5. Fox Creek
6. Grande Cache
7. Jasper
8. Lamont
9. Morinville
10. Provost
11. Redwater
12. Rocky Mountain House
13. Sedgewick
14. Smoky Lake
15. Swan Hills
16. Three Hills
17. Tofield
18. Two Hills
19. Valleyview
20. Vegreville
21. Vermilion
22. Viking
23. Wainwright
24. Whitecourt

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Alberta thanks to generous community and provincial-level support which enabled the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources. Provincial partners of the program are Alberta Education and the STARS Foundation (a founding provincial partner) as well as Alberta print partner Star Press Inc.

The ACT Foundation’s health partners, who support the program in Alberta communities and throughout Canada are: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. 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 in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools, and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. More than 1.4 million youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Alberta student who taught peers the ACT High School CPR Program now plans to become paramedic

Dominique believes all students should know how to react…

Lethbridge student Dominique Pietras, 18, has been peer teaching the ACT High School CPR program ever since she learned it in Grade 10.

After dedicating much of her high school life to first aid training, she graduated from Catholic Central High School with plans to become a paramedic.

Dominique’s school is special in that it allows for a specialization in sports medicine.

“I put passion in to what I do, and I take pride in my basic and athletic first aid skills,” said Dominique.

“I thought the ACT High School CPR Program was really great,” she said. “I loved getting to do the hands on training with the mannequins.”

“It gave me a big sense of responsibility and I take pride in keeping my skills up to date,” said Dominique. “I wouldn’t even have thought of getting certified if I hadn’t taken the course, and then I wouldn’t have discovered what it is that I want to do.”

After taking the program in combination with her school’s other first aid courses, Dominique was able to put her skills to use several times throughout her high school career. She has taped ankles on sports fields, checked pulses of people who were having trouble breathing, and once at the community pool where she works she assisted someone who was choking on a small candy.

“I just wanted to get her to start breathing and I was actually able to clear her throat with my finger, and then I started to do breaths,” said Dominique. “My first thought was my first aid and CPR training. Nothing else went through my mind. I just followed my instincts.”

But Dominique didn’t stop at her own training – she then went on to assist her teachers in delivering the lifesaving program to her peers. In her graduating year, the ACT Foundation, in partnership with the STARS Foundation, honoured Dominique with a Student Leadership Award for work.

“I peer teach CPR in the sports medicine classes, and I show the students the proper technique,” explained Dominique, who also trains other students in athletic first aid, such as learning emergency signals on the field and how to tape ankles and wrists.

“Dominique is very dedicated, she is very conscientious and very peer friendly,” said her phys-ed teacher Diane Delbello. “She is wonderful. She is very confident, but very levelheaded. She is committed to first aid and her students respect her for that.”

“I’ve had so many compliments from the coaches,” Diane continued. “They count on her and she has become just as much a part of the coaching staff as she is a student.”

“We are so impressed with Dominique and the initiative she has taken to help teachers empower her fellow students to save lives,” said Sandra Clarke, Executive Director of the ACT Foundation. “We are thrilled to present her with ACT’s Student Leadership Award. She is a wonderful example of community leadership and a model for her peers.”

“STARS congratulates Dominique on her achievement, her community leadership and her involvement in making a difference,” said Dr. Greg Powell, President and CEO of the STARS Foundation.

“The skills acquired through the ACT High School CPR Program go beyond the response ‘in the moment,’” Dr. Powell continued. “The training also provides transferrable life skills in rapid decision making and taking appropriate action when required to do so. We are proud to be partnered with the ACT Foundation in supporting such important life, leadership and technical skills.”

Dominique is humble when asked about both her peer teaching and the emergency assistance she has been able to provide for others.

“I just really love it,” she said. “I find it interesting, it is fun, and I think it is a good experience to teach other people to do what I love.”

“Why not be a leader and take that extra step?” she said. “I take pride in what I do.”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Catholic Central High School, thanks to the generous support of ACT’s Alberta partners: the STARS Foundation, a founding partner for the program, and Alberta Education. ACT’s lead community partner in Lethbridge is the Kiwanis Club of Green Acres. Mannequins and curriculum resources were donated to the school and teachers are trained as CPR instructors for their students.

Also responsible are ACT’s core partners, companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. They provide ACT’s sustaining funding and are committed to the Foundation’s Alberta program and 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 in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. More than 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Ontario schools train entire staff on defibrillator use

Kanata’s All Saints Catholic Secondary School and Ottawa’s Glebe Collegiate Institute have gone above and beyond by holding open AED teacher trainings

When ACT places an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in a high school, the school must ensure a group of teachers and staff is trained on how to use the lifesaving device.

But two Ottawa schools have gone above and beyond that request, holding open orientation sessions that ensure most, if not all of their staff, have basic knowledge of the AED, where it is located and how to use it in an emergency.

Just days after receiving their AED, the phys-ed staff at All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Kanata used a portion of their schools’ personal development day to introduce almost 30 staff to the AED and give them hands on practice with the device.

“We are here to eliminate any fears or reservations you may have about using the AED in an emergency,” said teacher Kendra Read to a group of coaches, custodial staff, educational assistants and teachers of all subjects and grades. “It may be something you never need to use, but it is good to know how to use it – just in case.”

Teacher Anne Murphy showed the staff where their AED was located before using the AED training units to teach the group.

“It is made so anyone can use it,” she said enthusiastically.

Religion teacher Chantel Campbell said learning how to use the AED is important to her for very personal reasons.

“My dad died of a heart attack in 1997,” she said. “He was just at work when he started to experience chest pain, and then he just put down his head and died.”

“It makes you wonder if things would have been different if an AED had been there,” said Chantel, who is now a strong advocate for AED training. “If you have a chance to save a life, you should do everything you can to ensure that you are trained on the tools.”

All Saints Catholic Secondary School isn’t the only school training their staff on the AEDs.

Ottawa’s Glebe Collegiate Institute held a mandatory meeting for their entire staff to learn how to save a life – about 120 staff attended.

“The more people who are trained, the better off we are,” said Glebe principal Patricia Kulka. “Now I have all my staff trained, plus 750 students to date, and next year when we do it again we’ll train another 350 students.”

Having so many people trained is important to the staff at Glebe Collegiate Institute, not just to ensure that the staff and students are safe, but also the community members who frequent the school in the evenings.

“High school is done at the end of the day but at 6 p.m. the school is open for continuing education and interest courses,” said Patricia. “On Saturday the school is used for international language training.”

Since the pilot project began in March 2007, Patricia and her staff have become steadfast supporters of the ACT High School AED Program.

“Kids think that it is cool. Parents love it, and our teachers say it is one of the best trainings we provide,” said Patricia.

“As a principal I don’t have any expectations for my kids that I don’t have for my staff, and I hold everyone to a very high standard,” she continued. “So if I’m training all of my students, why wouldn’t I train all of my staff?”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible thanks to the generous support of ACT’s core partners, companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. 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 in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. More than 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Montreal teacher vows to continue teaching youth CPR after retirement

Russell Haliburton believes it is important to teach students to react

After 34 years of teaching and 14 years teaching the ACT High School CPR Program, Montreal resident Russell Haliburton is retiring.

But he doesn’t want to let that get in the way of continuing to deliver CPR training to students.

“One of the things I’d love to do is continue with the program and teach it to other schools,” said Russell. “I haven’t been able to do this because as a full-time teacher I just haven’t had time.”

Russell has been teaching the ACT program to the Grade 9 students at LaurenHill Academy since the program pilot in 1996.

“We are big believers in the fact that this program is one of the most important things that kids learn in high school,” said Russell. “We are giving them the opportunity to save a life.”

Russell says that he and two other senior phys-ed teachers at the school have come to really believe in the program over the years.

“We’ve all had parents, alive or dead, who have suffered from coronary heart disease,” said Russell. “It is the best thing we teach. It is a lifelong skill that saves lives, and nothing else teaches that.”

Russell said that sometimes students don’t think they will use the training, and during their physical education time they would rather be playing football or basketball.

“Some say, ‘what are the chances?’” said Russell with a laugh. “Well, that is what my student Jonathan thought.”

Jonathan Pizzicarola is one of Russell’s students that wasn’t so sure about learning the ACT Program. But shortly after Russell taught him the program, Jonathan used the skills in an emergency at work.

“He quite literally bounded into my office and said: ‘hey, I just used that CPR stuff you taught me,’” recalled Russell.

An older gentleman had collapsed at the hotel where Jonathan worked, and Jonathan had the courage to step in and help.

“I touched his neck to check his pulse and couldn’t find one,” said Jonathan. “So I told the woman who grabbed me to call 911.”

“He secured the scene,” said Russell. “He had the man in the right position. He had the people getting help. He had the paramedics coming. Everything was correct for when the doctor on site stepped in.”

“Russell is an outstanding example of the critical role that teachers play in empowering youth,” said Sandra Clarke, Executive Director of the ACT Foundation. “Because of Russell and his passion for CPR training, hundreds of youth are trained to save lives every year. That he will continue this even in retirement will make a huge difference in the lives of many youth and their families.”

“Is it passion or is it common sense?” said Russell.

“I try not to make a big deal out of it when I’m teaching it,” said Russell. “I tell the students that these things happen. Life happens to you. Emergencies happen. You need to be prepared, go back to your training, and act.”

“Sure, I’m going to do other things when I retire,” said Russell, “But I’m not going to be on vacation all the time. I enjoy teaching the program and it’s something I do well, so why quit?”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in LaurenHill Academy thanks to the generous support of ACT’s Quebec provincial partners: J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, McKesson Canada, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Quebec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports, Scotiabank and Sun Life Financial. Mannequins and curriculum resources were donated to the school and the teachers were trained as CPR instructors for their students.

Also responsible are ACT’s core partners, companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. They provide ACT’s sustaining funding and are committed to the Foundation’s Quebec Program and 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 in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. More than 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Alberta student leader takes the stage to teach CPR to his peers

Ben Roth believes all students should know how to react…

The ACT High School CPR Program is known for engaging and exciting young people about emergency preparedness – but Calgary student Ben Roth went above and beyond when he stepped up and volunteered to actually help teach the program to his peers.

As Ben has been swimming since he was a child and is now a trained lifeguard, he enjoyed the ACT program immediately and wanted to be a part of it.

“I thought the school did a great job covering the basics of what you need to do in an emergency situation, but I wanted to help,” said Ben, who also teaches swimming lessons.

“I put together the mannequins, demonstrated how to work them for the class, and helped with some of the lectures,” said Ben. “Then the next year, I came in and taught a lot of the CPR program to the Grade 10 students.”

“Learning CPR and being a lifeguard was my goal as a 10-year-old,” said Ben. “I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time. Being a lifeguard and taking the ACT High School CPR Program have been my first steps to becoming a lifesaver as a doctor.”

“It is outstanding to see this kind of knowledge and leadership in students who take our program,” said Sandra Clarke, Executive Director of the ACT Foundation. “The program often boosts students’ interest in health care as a career choice, and we are so happy with the initiative that Ben has taken.”

“He was phenomenal,” said Arlene Buchan, the phys-ed teacher who runs ACT’s lifesaving program in Calgary’s Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School.

“He has a great sense of humour, so all the attention was on him and the kids were really listening,” said Arlene. “He used scenarios that the kids would relate to, and I think he actually did a better job of the lecture than we do.”

“In the quiz after the class was completed, it was really noticeable how much the students had retained,” said Arlene.

“I was in the lecture with him and if I interjected we would co-teach…but I really didn’t need to step in often,” she said with a laugh. “He even brought his own supplies.”

“I always feel like other people listen to me when I have something to say, and right now I have something to say that is important,” said Ben.

“I think learning CPR is a really good idea,” said Ben. “Emergencies like this are hopefully something that most students won’t experience – but they should all know how to react if they do.”

Ben said his parents were happy to hear about his leadership in helping teach the ACT High School CPR Program to his peers.

“It is kind of a normal thing in my life to take on opportunities like this,” he said with a laugh. “So my parents weren’t extremely surprised…but they were definitely pretty proud.”

“He has always been really comfortable in front of a group,” said Ben’s father Clayton. “He doesn’t have a shy bone in his body.”

“We’re very proud of him,” said Clayton. “He is a great kid.”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Ben’s school thanks to generous community and provincial-level support which enabled the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources. Community partners in Calgary are the Kiwanis Clubs of Calgary (Chinook, Downtown, Foothills, Metro and Northmount), while provincial partners of the program are Alberta Education and the STARS Foundation (a founding provincial partner in this province).

Core partners supporting the program in Alberta and throughout Canada are companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. 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 in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools, and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. More than 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Cobourg teacher brings ACT Program to all alternative education sites in her board

Debbie Kilmer believes all students must be trained to react…

When special education teacher Debbie Kilmer heard about the ACT High School CPR Program, her mind flashed back to a time when she was able to save a stranger’s life.

“I was in a restaurant and a gentleman started to choke,” said Debbie. “Everyone just froze, and all I can remember hearing was this woman screaming: ‘can someone help my husband?!'”

“I snapped into action and did several abdominal thrusts,” said Debbie, who had been consistently updating her own first aid and CPR training since she began teaching. “When I dislodged the steak, he collapsed and appeared unconscious. After I realized he was breathing, I put him in the recovery position and continued to monitor his vital signs.”

“He was much larger than me,” Debbie continued. “Many people might be intimidated by a large size difference but after three attempts I was successful.”

“Giving a person the potential to survive such a horrible accident is a wonderful feeling,” said Debbie. “What I think was most instrumental in pushing me to bring the ACT Program to our alternative education students was realizing that there were so many people in the restaurant who didn’t know what to do.”

When Debbie heard about high school CPR training in Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, she contacted ACT to ensure that the board’s Centres for Individual Studies, which includes three alternative schools, would receive the same training and materials as the mainstream students.

“ACT was not only able to provide us with a total of 45 mannequins, but also gave us 15 infant mannequins,” said Debbie.

“I am very passionate about alternative education,” said Debbie, “and to empower our students with lifesaving skills is so tremendously valuable.”

“Not only will our students be able to react in an emergency, but they can now put CPR training on their resume, which will enhance their overall employability,” she added.

Beyond the positive influence that the ACT Program has had on her students’ self-esteem, Debbie said she also recently heard of a CIS student who was able to apply his skills in an emergency.

“A family was having supper one night and a neighbour came in and asked if someone knew CPR,” said Debbie. “There was an infant who wasn’t breathing, and one of our students was able to react and assist.”

“I was just so proud of the student having the courage to actually act,” said Debbie. “His mother contacted us and thanked us for providing this training.”

ACT presented Debbie with a Community Champion Award in 2008 for her continued support and passion for the program.

“Teachers are vital links in the chain of survival when delivering the CPR program to their students,” said Sandra Clarke, Executive Director of the ACT Foundation. “Debbie has worked tirelessly to bring CPR skills and knowledge to her alternative education students and her advocacy has ensured these youth are armed with lifesaving skills and knowledge they can apply to their everyday lives.”

But Debbie didn’t stop at her own schools and students. She also influenced her 25-year-old daughter, Jennifer Kilmer, to follow in her footsteps. Not only is Jennifer a teacher, but she is also passionate about the importance of CPR training.

“I studied teaching at the University of Ottawa, and in one of our classes we decided that we wanted to do a training session to make ourselves more employable,” said Jennifer. “I decided to take the initiative to organize a CPR training session. About 26 of my colleagues were trained.”

“People were extremely excited that I brought the program forward with ACT,” said Jennifer. “We empowered ourselves to feel confident that when we go into the classroom, if there is an emergency situation, we will be able to deal with it.”

Debbie said she is very proud that her daughter is just as excited about student CPR training as she is.

“By bringing the ACT Program in to the secondary curriculum, it spreads valuable information and skills to more people than ever before,” said Debbie. “In the past this kind of training would just be for educators, lifeguards and so forth. Now it is available to high school students, and we’ve taken a step even further by providing it for alternative education.”

“This is my own way to pay it forward,” said Debbie, with a laugh.

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s Centres for Individual Studies thanks to the generous support of ACT’s partners. ACT’s lead community partner is TransCanada and provincial partners are the Government of Ontario, Hydro One and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Mannequins and curriculum resources were donated to the school and the teachers were trained as CPR instructors for their students. The Peterborough Examiner volunteered to print the student manuals at no cost for this school.

Also responsible are ACT’s core partners, companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. 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 in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. More than 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.