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One evening in March, Karen and Tom were playing in a volley-ball tournament at Chinguacousy Secondary School in Brampton.

“We were in the middle of a game when a man ran in asking if anyone was a doctor,” recalls Tom. “I told him I knew CPR and rushed to the other gym with Karen.”

Upon their arrival, Karen and Tom saw a man collapsed on the floor. Many people were gathered around him. “They thought he had a seizure,” says Karen.

While one of the players dialled 911, the two vice principals checked the man’s vital signs. “He was unconscious and gasping for breath,” says Tom. Immediately, he started CPR while Karen counted the compressions to help him with the pace.

Darlene, high school physical education department head, was in the fitness centre overlooking the gym when she saw the scene. Immediately she ran to get the school’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Upon Darlene’s arrival, Karen rushed to the front of the school to guide the paramedics to the gym.

Promptly, Darlene and Tom placed the AED pads on the man and delivered a shock as per the instructions of the machine. Tom continued compressions while Darlene provided artificial respiration before administering a second shock.

Karen returned with the paramedics who took over and transported the man to the hospital.

“I was definitely shaken up right after the incident,” recalls Karen. “It taught me that the most important thing is educating everyone in what to do when a situation like this occurs,” she adds.

Darlene agrees with her. “When we teach CPR to our students, we empower them with the confidence to recognize the emergency and start that chain of help.”

“I would love to see more people trained in CPR,” says Tom. “Having more people out there able to save a life, you can’t put a price on that.”

The ACT High School CPR and AED Program was set up in the Peel Region with the help of ACT’s lead community partners, AstraZeneca Canada, Amgen Canada, and Boehringer Ingelheim Canada Ltd., provincial partners, the Government of Ontario and Hydro One, health partners, AstraZeneca Canada, Sanofi Canada, and Amgen Canada, and many community partners.

Community partners are: BASF Canada Inc., Bayer, Brampton Village Lions Club, EllisDon Corporation, Enersource Corporation, Flower City Kiwanis, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Kiwanis Club of Mississauga South, Loblaws Companies Ltd., Mississauga Central Lions Club, Mississauga Cooksville Lions Club, Mississauga Erin Mills Lions Club, Optimist Club of Brampton, Rotary Club of Bolton, Rotary Club of Bramalea, Rotary Club of Brampton, Rotary Club of Mississauga, Rotary Club of Mississauga Credit Valley AM, Streetsville Lions Club, Takeda Canada Inc. and TransCanada.

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing free CPR and AED training programs in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins and teacher training to schools, and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Over 3.6 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.