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Mrs. Hogan’s grade 11 English class at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe-Claire was reading through the well-known play as they always did when studying Shakespeare.

It was the first period the day on November 8, 2006 and the students were nearing the end of this tragic tale.

Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, Drink off this potion.- Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2

Brian, who was reading the role of Hamlet uttered the words as he tipped the cup filled with poison to the lips of King Claudius, played by his friend Chris.

The students had used a quarter to represent the drop of poison. The quarter was still in the cup.

“Chris opened his mouth at the same time that I brought the cup to his mouth,” says 17-year-old Brian. “The quarter fell in.” The prop, intended to kill King Claudius, was now lodged at the back of Chris’ throat causing a complete blockage.

“The moment it fell in I just got up, and held my throat knowing Brian would catch on,” says Chris who knew his friend had received the ACT High School CPR training in grade 9, which included the Heimlich Manoeuvre. He knew his friend would be able to help.

Brian knew exactly what to do. “I went behind him right away. I did about 4 thrusts. The quarter came flying out,” he says.

Chris is impressed by how quickly his classmate responded. “It was quite impressive considering nobody else in the class has realized what had actually happened. People were laughing thinking I was actually acting out the play with amazing realism.”

Although he remains very modest about his quick reaction, Brian knows how important it was. “It feels good to know that I could use what I was taught,” says the teen, who has received additional training since the ACT Program.

As for Chris, he doesn’t hesitate when asked if the ACT High School CPR Program can help save lives. “If the manoeuvre can save my life than it can surely save another’s.”

The ACT High School CPR Program is made possible in Quebec thanks to the generous provincial-level support of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Quebec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports, and Sun Life Financial, as well as community-level partners. This support enables the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources for high schools.

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 Quebec 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.