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While dining with his wife at one of their favourite restaurants on March 3, 2005, the 67-year-old businessman suffered a cardiac arrest.

“Last thing I remember, we were sitting at the table and then…it’s all a blank,” says Arnie. “I don’t recall ordering drinks, or feeling odd, nothing of the sort.”

Arnie had retrieved Sarah following a flight home from New York City, where she had been visiting their son. She suggested they unwind with a romantic dinner at Ciccio’s, where they were given their favourite corner table and ordered drinks from a waiter well-known to regular patrons.

Arnie suddenly stood up and appeared to be attempting to match the waiter’s friendly banter. But his gestures soon became frantic and he collapsed to the ground from cardiac arrest.

Ross was dining with his family and quickly leapt into action. He performed two-person CPR with the help of his mother, Lise, a nurse, until paramedics came. Ross was among the first class to receive CPR training through the 1994 Ottawa pilot of the ACT High School CPR Program at École Secondaire Louis Garneau. He and his family are credited with helping to save Arnie’s life.

Ross is modest about his role in the rescue.

“I take it in stride,” says the 24-year-old. “These things happen and it is good to be able to help. It went quick – with little thought, you act. You feel confident somehow …you just do it.”

Sarah says she is still shaken by the incident.

“It’s all so unbelievable… A personal tragedy that touched our lives in an indelible way,” she says.

Annie’s family says the incident has reinforced their awareness of the importance of being prepared for an emergency situation. Wanting to share this message with others, they sponsored the CPR training for their congregation at Machzikei Hadas with help from the ACT Foundation in July 2005.

“There is no greater gift to a community than having people trained in CPR,” says Arnie. “People do not realize this until they run into trouble. It could have happened in the car on my way to the airport, in the kitchen when I was alone…I am so grateful to Ross and to the ACT Foundation.”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible at École Secondaire Louis Garneau, 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.