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.

BC student saves a stranger’s life with CPR

A feeling of excitement filled the air as 42 year old Vancouver businesswoman Sandra and her husband Cris boarded a crowded bus to head home from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. She and her husband had just watched the men’s figure skating final in which American Evan Lysacek upset Russia’s Evgeny Plushenko for gold. “We were talking about the skating program and trying to decide where to go for dinner”, recounts Sandra. “I started to feel ill and all of a sudden I felt like a black curtain came up from my chin to the top of my head.”

As Cris reached for his wife, he recalled with fear a letter Sandra’s Mom in Nova Scotia had sent the previous month about an aunt who was diagnosed with AVRC, a rare genetic disorder, in which one of the symptoms was sudden death. “I heard her breathing, an acute sucking sound, maybe 10 breaths or less,” says Cris. “Her eyes opened with an indescribable look of horror, almost like that picture, The Scream.” Cris called out for help from the crowd. No one came forward. He started CPR as best as he could, trying to recall the CPR training he had received over 30 years ago, and called out for help one more time. This time, a young girl pushed her way through the crowded bus and said, “I know CPR!”

Erin, just sixteen years old, and her father took over performing CPR on Sandra.

“I assessed her and then I started doing compressions while my dad gave breaths. Learning CPR at school really helped. I knew what to do” remembers Erin.

Remarkably, after a few minutes of CPR Sandra regained consciousness and was able to walk off the bus to the ambulance. Once she reached the hospital, a specialist confirmed she had experienced a cardiac arrest. A few days later, she had an internal defibrillator implanted in her chest.

Sandra has since made a full recovery and continues to run 10 km three times a week. Only a few months after her cardiac arrest she completed a 10 km race placing in the top 50 women in her age group. She is very thankful Erin was able to learn CPR in school, “If it weren’t for Erin, I would have died. CPR is an invaluable skill to have. It can mean the difference between life and death. Erin’s knowledge and decisive action saved my life.”

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR in high schools across Canada. More than 1.8 million youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Vancouver teacher saves stranger with CPR

Many teachers say that it is important for staff to know CPR, as high schools are frequently used as community centres in the evening. It was on parent teacher interview night that John, the phys-ed department head for Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver, had this idea confirmed. “I had just finished my parent … Continue reading “Vancouver teacher saves stranger with CPR”

Many teachers say that it is important for staff to know CPR, as high schools are frequently used as community centres in the evening.

It was on parent teacher interview night that John, the phys-ed department head for Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver, had this idea confirmed.

“I had just finished my parent interviews for the night when one of our other teachers came to get me,” he said. “There was a man in his sixties in trouble on the floor.”

“A group of men rent our back gym for basketball,” said John, adding that though the other basketball players had called 911, Victor, 62, needed help immediately.

“Apparently I was running and then I fell to my knees,” said Victor, who said he barely remembers anything from the event. “Then I fell right to the floor and my friends realized I wasn’t kidding.”

“I got him on the floor and listened to his breath,” said John, who with the assistance of his colleague Mike, performed CPR until the paramedics arrived several minutes later.

“I had two teachers doing tag-team CPR on me,” said Victor, with a laugh. “If that would have happened to me at home, I wouldn’t have been so lucky.”

Victor said that when the paramedics arrived, they used a defibrillator to shock his heart.

“With the help of defibrillation, the paramedics were able to revive him,” said John, adding that Victor has since made a “complete recovery.”

“My cardiologist told me he had never seen someone who had a major heart attack come out of it as well as I have,” said Victor. “There is no doubt that the people on scene assisted with that. What they did for me in the first few minutes was critical.”

John has been teaching the ACT High School CPR Program annually for the last seven years. He said that the program helped arm him with the skills needed to respond to Victor’s cardiac arrest.

“Because I have been teaching the program yearly I was much better prepared,” said John.

“I am so happy that John had the knowledge and the training to save me,” said Victor. “I call him my big hero.”

Victor, who is a well known Flamenco guitarist, has since had the local fire department come to his studio to train his colleagues.

“It really doesn’t take very long to learn how to do CPR and the ACT High School CPR Program is especially important for kids to learn,” said Victor.

“There is a chance a 16-year-old is going to come across several emergency situations like this in his or her lifetime,” said Victor. “I think this training should be compulsory.”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, thanks to the generous support of ACT’s community partners in Vancouver: the Kiwanis Club of Vancouver and Royal Bank Financial Group Foundation. Provincial partners include British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS) and the paramedics’ union, the Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia – CUPE Local 873 (CUPE). Mannequins and curriculum resources were donated to the school and teachers are trained as CPR instructors for their students. The Vancouver Sun and The Province volunteered to print the student manuals in Vancouver 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 British Columbia 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.