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KELOWNA, BC 10:00 a.m. – Today, the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation, and its supporting partners will officially launch the ACT High School Defibrillator Training Program at Kelowna Secondary School.

The ACT Foundation is the charitable organization that is establishing free CPR and defibrillator training programs in high schools throughout BC and across Canada. ACT is working in partnership with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) and community partner Interior Savings Credit Union to bring this program to public secondary schools in the School District No. 23 Central Okanagan.

“Each year the ACT Foundation’s CPR and AED program will enable approximately 45,000 students to gain the information, skills and confidence to save lives,” says Dr. William Dick, Interim Vice President, Medical Programs, BC Emergency Health Services. “These skills will assist them to help others throughout the rest of their lifetime.”

Local credit union, Interior Savings is providing financial support for the program via its Community Investment Fund. In addition to training, the funding has provided participating secondary schools with 28 AED training mannequins, 28 AED training units and 4 AED units for in-school cardiac arrest emergencies.

“Thousands of people pass through the halls of our high schools each week for sports, cultural events, adult education courses and community events,” says Kathy Conway, President and CEO of Interior Savings. “By empowering our students with these life-saving skills, we are helping to safeguard the health of our communities.”

ACT’s health partners – AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi – provide sustaining funding for the Foundation and are committed to bringing the CPR and defibrillation program to secondary schools in the Okanagan, as well as across Canada. BCAS paramedics volunteer their time where possible to train secondary school teachers so they can teach Grade 10 students how to spot an emergency and use a defibrillator device.

“We are thrilled with the support of ACT’s partners. Without them, this lifesaving program would not be possible,” says ACT Foundation Executive Director Sandra Clarke.

Early CPR, combined with the use of an AED within the first few minutes, can improve survival rates for cardiac arrest victims by up to 75 per cent, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. This program will see 1,900 students throughout the Central Okanagan empowered to save lives each year.

To date, the ACT High School CPR Program has been established in over 220 public standard secondary schools throughout British Columbia and approximately 281,000 students have already been empowered to save lives with CPR.

Once the program is set up in all public standard secondary schools, approximately 45,000 youth will be trained in CPR each year. Across Canada the ACT High School CPR Program has been set up in more than 1,600 schools with more than 2.6 million youth already trained to save lives.