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Celebrating CPR month through the launch of high school CPR program

Medicine Hat – Monday, November 18th, 2002 at 10:00 a.m., Medicine Hat High School, 200-7 Street SW — Today, the ACT Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Medicine Hat, the Kiwanis Club of Medicine Hat Golden K, the STARS Foundation and community partners launch the ACT High School CPR Program in Medicine Hat. This initiative will result in 1,000 Grade 10 students from eight high schools from the Medicine Hat School District, Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education and Prairie Rose Regional Division being empowered to save lives with CPR training. The four-hour CPR course will be taught to all Grade 10 students by the physical education teachers every year.

This event is the second 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 part of the high school curriculum assuring all high school students graduate with the skills and knowledge to save a life. The ACT Foundation has rallied the support of community partners, and in one year alone, has implemented the high school CPR program in almost 100 Alberta high schools, reaching 21,000 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 Medicine Hat, the Kiwanis Club of Medicine Hat Golden K and the STARS Foundation in order to equip schools with the resources and teacher training required delivering 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 Medicine Hat News donates the printing of the student manuals.

“The Kiwanis Club of Medicine Hat has been involved in projects that enhance the quality of life in the community. Sponsoring the ACT High School CPR Program gives us a high level of comfort that someone’s life may be saved because of the training a student took in this program,” says Dr. Ken Sauer, President of the Kiwanis Club of Medicine Hat.

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 Medicine Hat Ambulance Service is a valuable partner in this initiative, providing medical direction for the program. “As an emergency physician and Medical Director of the Medicine Hat Ambulance Service, I have too often seen the devastating effect of cardiac arrests,” says Dr. Hal Canham. “The ‘Chain of Survival’ must have four strong links to maximize survival of these patients, those being early access to Emergency Medical Services, early CPR, early defibrillation and early Advanced Life Support (ALS). The Medicine Hat Ambulance Service is able to provide two strong links with early defibrillation and early ALS. However we rely on the community to strengthen the other two links in this ‘chain.’ Early CPR is integral to survival from this devastating condition. I applaud the ACT Foundation for training our local high school students in CPR. I am convinced lives will be saved in this community by having this skill taught in our school system.”

Schools embrace the program with enthusiasm. “The ACT program brings a wonderful life skill to our students which they will take to their present and future families. We’re proud to be a part of this”, says Carol Fedrau-Ens, Assistant Superintendent, Medicine Hat School District. School boards value the community partnerships. “We are very pleased to be a part of such a successful partnership. We are very appreciative of the efforts of all the partners in ensuring that our students have the necessary background to be able to apply these life-saving skills. It would be very difficult for any one partner to be successful on their own with such a large initiative,” says Brian Andjelic, Assistant Superintendent of the Prairie Rose School Division.

Guy Tetrault, Superintendent of the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education adds, “This initiative is advantageous to students, teachers and our division as a whole, as it not only lends to successful curriculum outcomes, but also supports the move towards building community among organizations to work together towards a common goal.”

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-intensive pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharma, Bayer Healthcare, Pfizer Canada and Pharmacia Canada.