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It was early evening and 14-year-old Hedaya was in the basement with Madhi, 11, helping him with his homework. Hedaya, who tutors her brother nightly, was hoping they would be done soon. “I was thinking about my own homework and my math test the next day,” she says. “I had to get his work done before I could start mine.”

While Hedaya was looking over Madhi’s work, he was doing all he could to get a mint out of its container and into his mouth. “I was holding the whole pack over my mouth and my head was tilted back,” he says. ”I was shaking the bottle trying to get one to fall into my mouth.”

Mahdi got more than he was hoping for. A bunch of mints fell out and became lodged in his throat.

“He looked up at me with a really red face,” says Hedaya. “I thought he was joking.”

He ran to the washroom. Hedaya followed. She found him struggling for air and trying to scoop water into his mouth.

She knew she had to react. “He couldn’t breathe at all. He was choking,” she says. “I went right behind him and did the Heimlich Manoeuvre really hard.” The mints flew out into the sink.

“I never thought that something like that would ever happen. I never knew I would save someone’s life,” she says. That same day she put money in her family’s piggy bank. The act, an Islamic customary gesture, serves as a token of thanks for a life saved.

Hedaya learned how to save a life through the ACT High School CPR Program at Ottawa’s Glebe Collegiate. She has since taught her mother.

Her younger brother says he is impressed with his sister’s quick action. “I didn’t even know she knew what to do,” says Madhi. “If she hadn’t been downstairs with me, I wouldn’t have survived.”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Hedaya’s school thanks to generous community and provincial-level support which enabled the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources. The lead community partner in Ottawa is the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa. The print partner which donates the printing of the student manual is the Ottawa Citizen. Provincial partners of the program are the Government of Ontario, Hydro One, Shoppers Drug Mart, and The Ontario Trillium Foundation.

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. Over 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Core partners supporting the program in Ontario and throughout Canada are 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.