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Nanaimo, BC 10:00 a.m. – Today, the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation, and partners will launch the ACT High School CPR and Defibrillator Program in the six public secondary schools of School District No. 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith. Eleven hundred (1,100) students from the communities of Ladysmith and Nanaimo will be empowered by their teachers with essential lifesaving skills every year. The media event is being held at Dover Bay Secondary School, 6135 McGirr Road, Nanaimo, BC, V9V 1M1.

The ACT Foundation is the charitable organization that is establishing free CPR and defibrillator training programs in secondary schools throughout BC and across Canada. ACT is working in partnership with provincial partner BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) paramedics and staff, lead community partner RBC, and health partners AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi Canada to bring this program to Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District secondary schools.

“It’s a fact – Defibrillators save lives. Just last year, a 34-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest at Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena was saved thanks in large part to the defibrillator located at the facility,” said Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell. “Training 1,100 students and staff at our secondary schools and providing defibrillators to use in the event of a cardiac arrest improves the chances to save lives, even if it is only one, it’s one life worth saving.”

Funding will see participating secondary schools receive training equipment to enable teachers to train students including Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training units, AED training mannequins, and program set-up that will see all students graduate with the skills and knowledge to save lives. Secondary schools will also receive a defibrillator for on-site cardiac arrest emergencies.

“At RBC, we believe the health and wellness of local communities is of vital importance,” said Michele Coleman, RBC Royal Bank Regional Vice President. “We are proud to be long-time supporters of The ACT Foundation and thrilled to be the community partner bringing CPR and AED training to School District # 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith Secondary Schools.”

With eight in 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurring at home or in public places, empowering youth with CPR training as part of their high school education will help increase citizen CPR response rates over the long term.

“As a founding partner of the ACT Foundation, we have proudly watched this program expand to communities from coast to coast,” said Ed Dybka, President & CEO, AstraZeneca Canada. “Not only are youth learning critical skills that stay with them for a lifetime, they also gain an appreciation of the science behind the techniques and, in some cases, go on to pursue careers in such areas as nursing, medicine, and emergency services.”

To date, the ACT High School CPR Program has been established in 226 public standard secondary schools throughout British Columbia and approximately 281,000 students have already been empowered to save lives with CPR.

“Each and every year the ACT Foundation’s CPR and AED program will enable approximately 44,000 students to gain the information, skills and confidence to save lives. These skills will assist them to help others throughout the rest of their lifetime. An investment worth our efforts,” said Dr. William Dick, Interim Vice President, Medical Programs of BCEHS.

Early CPR, combined with early defibrillation, can increase survival rates for cardiac arrest victims by up to 75% according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“We are thrilled with the support from our partners,” said Sandra Clarke, the ACT Foundation’s Executive Director. “With it, we can enhance the CPR program in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District secondary schools with the addition of the defibrillator component. These are lifesaving skills that students will be able to bring to their current and future families and communities.”

To date, the ACT Foundation has set up the ACT High School CPR Program in more than 1,700 high schools nation-wide, empowering more than 2.9 million youth to save lives.

About the ACT Foundation

The ACT Foundation is the national charitable organization that is establishing the CPR and AED program in Canadian high schools. The program is built on ACT’s award-winning community-based model of partnerships and support, whereby ACT finds local partners who donate the mannequins and AED training units that schools need to set up the program. Secondary school teachers then teach CPR and how to use a defibrillator to their students as a regular part of the curriculum, reaching all youth prior to graduation. ACT’s partners who are committed to bringing the program to British Columbia are BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and our national health partners, AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi Canada.