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Rebecca Ferguson is still overwhelmed by emotion when she speaks of the night her father choked on his food at a family dinner.

Instantly, her husband Rich, son Ryan and daughter Caitlin leaped into action –her entire family of four worked as a team to save 87-year-old David Hogg’s life.

“My son Ryan got up and started to do the Heimlich Manoeuvre a few times, while my wife Rebecca called 911,” said Rich. “Then I tried to administer the Heimlich Manoeuvre as well, because after a minute or two he had lost consciousness.”

Rich, Ryan and Caitlin all worked together, taking turns holding David up and performing numerous abdominal thrusts.

“Both of the kids were an incredible help,” said Rich. “They stayed calm, there was no panicking, and my wife was on the phone with the ambulance. We all worked as a team, and it was amazing how calm we all were, considering he was turning blue.”

After several minutes of abdominal thrusts, the food was dislodged from David’s throat.

“We are so proud of our kids,” said Rebecca, her voice breaking.

“Ryan said to me: ‘Mom – it really isn’t a big deal,’” said Rebecca, explaining how humble her children have been about the rescue.

“But this is a big deal to me,” Rebecca stressed. “That is my dad, and my kids and husband worked together to save his life.”

“The fact that they stepped forward and even tried is incredible,” she continued. “I look at my kids and know that if they can do that – they can do anything.”

Ryan, who was 15-years-old at the time of the rescue, had completed the ACT High School CPR Program just two weeks before. Caitlin, 21, had taken several CPR courses in the past.

“At first I was really scared, I think everyone was,” said Ryan. “He was on the ground and I was worried.”

“But I didn’t really think,” Ryan added. “Everyone at that time just jumped up and worked together.”

Ryan, who takes his high school courses through correspondence, visited the Centre for Learning in Okotoks, Alberta, to complete the ACT High School CPR Program as a part of his physical education curriculum.

His gym teacher Niki Doyle was thrilled when she heard about the rescue.

“She had a hard time relaying the information because it was so emotional for her,” said Niki of Ryan’s mother Rebecca. “It was just so amazing to hear – her children were saving her father’s life.”

“I think they are all heroes,” said Niki of the Ferguson family. “This was a human life they saved – and Ryan was a real leader in that rescue. Everyone in the family played a part and they worked as a team.”

NIki says she enjoys teaching the ACT High School CPR Program to her students, and since speaking with Rebecca, she always starts the course with the story of the Ferguson rescue.

“When the kids come in they are often tentative,” said Niki. “But by the end they are so engaged, and they realize the course is way more fun and practical than they expected it to be.”

“Everyone should take this course because you never know,” said Ryan.

“We did it in a couple of hours,” he added. “It was a breeze.”

“I think it would be crazy for people not to learn CPR, and not just because of what happened with our family,” said Rebecca. “Even before this happened, when we found out Ryan was going to have the course, I thought it was such a great idea.”

“It is absolutely wonderful and I wish I’d had it growing up,” said Rebecca.

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in the Centre for Learning, a division of the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools, thanks to the generous support of ACT’s founding provincial partners the STARS Foundation and Alberta Education. Mannequins and curriculum resources were donated to the school and the Calgary Emergency Medical Services (EMS) donated their time to train teachers as CPR instructors for their students.

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 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.