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What started as a dream one August morning turned into reality for a family in Thunder Bay, ON.

Clare was jolted awake after yelling to someone in her dream to call 911. She was about to fall back asleep when she heard her husband, Michel, 47, gasping.

She tried waking Michel, calling his name, but he was unresponsive and not breathing. Meanwhile, Luke, their 13-year-old son, heard his mother and went into his parents’ bedroom to see what was happening. Clare told Luke she couldn’t wake his father.

Luke called 911 and Clare started CPR with Michel still on the bed. Luke left the phone with his mother, so she could continue speaking with the 911 operator, and ran to his sister’s room for help. Madeleine, 15, was trained through the ACT High School CPR and AED Program, which aims to see all students empowered to save lives.

I was able to save my dad’s life because of the training. — Madeleine

With the 911 operator’s guidance, Madeleine and Luke quickly placed Michel on the floor, and Madeleine took over performing CPR until firefighters arrived.

“She stepped right in and did it,” says Clare.

Luke ran downstairs to wake their older brother, Christian, 17, and let firefighters into the house. The firefighters shocked Michel five times with an AED before transporting him to hospital. Michel was eventually transferred to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital, where he underwent a successful surgery for the insertion of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) before being sent home in early September.

“I was able to save my dad’s life because of the training,” says Madeleine.

“I’m super proud of her for stepping up the way she did, and feeling confident enough to do it was huge,” says Erica, the St. Patrick High School teacher who trained Madeleine through the ACT High School CPR and AED Program.

Michel is expected to make a full recovery and is grateful for his family’s quick response.

“How can you ever thank them enough?” he says. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and the ACT High School CPR and AED Program.”

The ACT Foundation established the ACT High School CPR and AED Program at St. Patrick High School in Ontario in 2009 so teachers could train students, ensuring all students graduate with lifesaving skills.         

ACT’s Ontario provincial partner is Hydro One and ACT’s national health partners are AstraZeneca Canada and Amgen Canada.     

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is the award-winning, national, charitable organization establishing free CPR and AED training programs in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins and teacher training to schools, and guides schools in program set up and long-term sustainability. More than 4.8 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.