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John McNeil is a great example of a pharmacist stepping out from behind the counter and taking an active role in his community.

McNeil recently championed the launch of a high school CPR program in his hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia, and encourages other pharmacists to promote the ACT Foundation program as well.

“For our profession, high school CPR is an ideal program. It’s about empowering people through health education. You can see the results. It raises your public image,” says MacNeil.

McNeil took the idea of ACT’s high school CPR initiative for Sydney schools to his Rotary Club. “They fell all over it,” he says, because the program is of a manageable size and produces tangible results. In the true spirit of community support, the club donated 40 mannequins to the Sherwood Park Education Centre.

As ACT moves the mandatory high school CPR program across Canada, community partners like McNeil play a critical role at the local level.

“So many pharmacists are involved in different organizations. They have contacts that will help them set up the ACT program,” says McNeil. He has sparked interest in the high school CPR initiative among Rotary Clubs of neighboring communities, and his club has now decided to extend their funding to another high school.

“It’s good to give something back to the community,” says McNeil, whose advocacy of high school CPR has become a natural extension of his work in the pharmacy. “This is a great opportunity for pharmacists to make a difference in their communities by empowering local youth to save lives.”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Sydney thanks to the generous support of ACT’s community partner the Rotary Club of Sydney. 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.