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Celebrating CPR month through the launch of high school CPR program

Lethbridge – Tuesday, November 19th, 2002 at 10:00 a.m., Central Catholic High School, 405-18th Street South — Today, the ACT Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Green Acres, the STARS Foundation and community partners launch the ACT High School CPR Program in Lethbridge. This initiative will result in 1,000 Grade 10 students from five high schools from the Lethbridge School District and Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate School Division being empowered to save lives with CPR training. The four-hour CPR course will be taught to all Grade 10 students by their physical education teachers every year.

This event is the third in the ACT Foundation’s five-city tour of Southern Alberta, launching the program in Brooks, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Chinook’s Edge and Red Deer in celebration of CPR month.

In November 2000, Alberta’s Minister of Learning, Dr. Lyle Oberg, announced that CPR would become a regular part of the high school curriculum, assuring all high school students graduate with the skills and knowledge to save a life. The ACT Foundation is working in partnership with Alberta Learning to bring CPR to the province’s schools. In one year alone, the ACT Foundation has implemented the high school CPR program in almost 100 Alberta high schools, reaching 22,000 students in the 2002-2003 school year. Province-wide implementation will see over 45,000 high school students trained in CPR every year.

“I am proud to say that Alberta’s students are becoming equipped with the tools to help save a person’s life in the critical moments of an emergency situation,” says Dr. Oberg. “Grade 10 students in Alberta are learning the basic CPR skills such as artificial respiration, chest compressions, and the Heimlich Maneuver, that will empower them to ‘act’ in an emergency.”

Community partnership is key to the success of the ACT High School CPR Program. As such, ACT has brought together the Kiwanis Club of Green Acres and the STARS Foundation in order to equip schools with the resources and teacher training required to deliver the CPR program to students. St. John Ambulance, as the teacher training partner, trains the high school teachers as CPR instructors for the program. The Lethbridge Herald donates the printing of the student manuals.

“The Kiwanis Club of Green Acres, as a lead community partner, is donating the mannequins that will be used in student training. The Kiwanis Club of Green Acres has served the Lethbridge community for over 50 years by supporting programs that directly benefit our children and young people,” says Paul Larson, President of the Kiwanis Club of Green Acres. “This is just one of the important student programs supported by the club.”

Through the ACT High School CPR Program, students will be prepared to help a parent or grandparent should they experience a heart attack, a brother, sister or child they are babysitting should they choke, or a friend involved in a drowning emergency. “The Chain of Survival begins at the moment a patient’s illness or injury occurs. The first link must be strong, durable and talented. The ACT High School CPR Program builds that link and we at STARS are proud to play a role,” says Dr. Greg Powell, CEO of the STARS Foundation. As founding provincial partner of the ACT High School CPR Program, the STARS Foundation has committed $159,000 to help implement the program throughout Alberta.

The Lethbridge Fire Department is a valuable partner in this initiative, providing medical direction for the program. “Each minute that goes by in a cardiac arrest situation an individual’s chances of survivability decreases significantly. Early CPR has been shown to be of great benefit in improving the likelihood of survival,” says Dr. Peter Kwan, Medical Director of the Lethbridge Fire Department. “By empowering individuals with the simple yet valuable skill of CPR the ACT program and the school divisions in Lethbridge have ensured that these young adults will be a vital link in the Chain of Survival.”

Schools embrace the program with enthusiasm. “We are most appreciative of the opportunity that the ACT High School CPR Program has provided for our students and staff. These critical skills our students acquire truly connect their learning to real life experiences, thereby enhancing the quality of their education and their lives. If at some time in the future a life is prolonged because a citizen learned this skill, then the effort, time and money will have been well spent,” says Paul Stevenson, Deputy Superintendent, Lethbridge School District.

Frank Letain, Superintendent of Holy Spirit Catholic School Division adds, “Education continues to be a key component in the ability to save lives. As a school division encompassing both rural and urban schools, the need to be self-empowered and knowledgeable about CPR is critical when the closest hospital/EMS response team could be more than just minutes away. We are grateful for our association with the ACT High School CPR Program.”

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to establishing CPR as required learning in every Canadian high school. ACT works in partnership with health professionals, service clubs, government and the community to help school boards establish the program. ACT raises funds for CPR mannequins and resources needed by schools. The ACT High School CPR Program already exists in several hundred schools in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba and Alberta. ACT’s corporate health partners are committed to ACT’s cross-Canada expansion of the program. They are companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharma, Bayer Healthcare, Pfizer Canada and Pharmacia Canada.