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Celebrating CPR month through the launch of high school CPR program

Red Deer – Thursday, November 21th, 2002 at 9:00 a.m., Festival Hall, Memorial Centre, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, 4204-58th Street — Today, the ACT Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Red Deer, the STARS Foundation, Red Deer District Community Foundation and community partners launch the ACT High School CPR Program in Red Deer. This initiative will result in 1,100 Grade 10 students from four high schools from the Red Deer School District and Red Deer Catholic Regional 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 last 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 Red Deer, the STARS Foundation and the Red Deer District Community 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 Red Deer Advocate donates the printing of the student manuals.

“Over the past 50 years Kiwanis Club members of Red Deer have sponsored and supported many programs for the benefit of the people of our community. We are very pleased at this opportunity to be involved with the ACT Foundation and other partners in launching the ACT High School CPR Program,” says Keith Walker, President, of the Kiwanis Club of Red Deer. This program will provide high school students with the training required to save lives now and as they continue to serve their roles as citizens of our community.”

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.

Red Deer Emergency Services, a valuable partner in this initiative, is providing medical direction for the program. “When there is a sudden cardiac arrest we rely on a ‘Chain of Survival’ to try to save these individuals. An integral part of this chain is ‘bystander CPR.’ This is crucial to the survival of any individual suffering an out-of hospital arrest,” says Dr. Gordon Neil, Medical Director, Red Deer Emergency Services. “Through the ACT Foundation we are forging a stronger link in this chain and it will save lives. Teaching these techniques to our grade ten students provides them with a set of life-saving skills that will be with them for the rest of their lives. It does and will make a difference.”

Schools embrace the program with enthusiasm. “When you really think about the potential impact this program could have, it is remarkable! When seconds are critical and lives are literally on the line, the knowledge students will gain through this program is invaluable. Providing our students with the opportunity to develop these skills is a tremendous contribution on the part of the ACT Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Red Deer, our Community Foundation, St. John Ambulance, the STARS Foundation and Red Deer Emergency Services,” says Cindy Jefferies, Chairman for Red Deer Public Schools.

Don Dolan, Superintendent for Red Deer Catholic Schools adds, “The ACT High School CPR Program initiative is an excellent example of community support for learning. The community has come together to empower students with the knowledge and skills to save lives. The program not only educates students about the factors of heart disease, but also encourages them to maintain healthy lifestyles.”

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.