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Many teachers say that it is important for staff to know CPR, as high schools are frequently used as community centres in the evening.

It was on parent teacher interview night that John, the phys-ed department head for Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Vancouver, had this idea confirmed.

“I had just finished my parent interviews for the night when one of our other teachers came to get me,” he said. “There was a man in his sixties in trouble on the floor.”

“A group of men rent our back gym for basketball,” said John, adding that though the other basketball players had called 911, Victor, 62, needed help immediately.

“Apparently I was running and then I fell to my knees,” said Victor, who said he barely remembers anything from the event. “Then I fell right to the floor and my friends realized I wasn’t kidding.”

“I got him on the floor and listened to his breath,” said John, who with the assistance of his colleague Mike, performed CPR until the paramedics arrived several minutes later.

“I had two teachers doing tag-team CPR on me,” said Victor, with a laugh. “If that would have happened to me at home, I wouldn’t have been so lucky.”

Victor said that when the paramedics arrived, they used a defibrillator to shock his heart.

“With the help of defibrillation, the paramedics were able to revive him,” said John, adding that Victor has since made a “complete recovery.”

“My cardiologist told me he had never seen someone who had a major heart attack come out of it as well as I have,” said Victor. “There is no doubt that the people on scene assisted with that. What they did for me in the first few minutes was critical.”

John has been teaching the ACT High School CPR Program annually for the last seven years. He said that the program helped arm him with the skills needed to respond to Victor’s cardiac arrest.

“Because I have been teaching the program yearly I was much better prepared,” said John.

“I am so happy that John had the knowledge and the training to save me,” said Victor. “I call him my big hero.”

Victor, who is a well known Flamenco guitarist, has since had the local fire department come to his studio to train his colleagues.

“It really doesn’t take very long to learn how to do CPR and the ACT High School CPR Program is especially important for kids to learn,” said Victor.

“There is a chance a 16-year-old is going to come across several emergency situations like this in his or her lifetime,” said Victor. “I think this training should be compulsory.”

The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, thanks to the generous support of ACT’s community partners in Vancouver: the Kiwanis Club of Vancouver and Royal Bank Financial Group Foundation. Provincial partners include British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS) and the paramedics’ union, the Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia – CUPE Local 873 (CUPE). Mannequins and curriculum resources were donated to the school and teachers are trained as CPR instructors for their students. The Vancouver Sun and The Province volunteered to print the student manuals in Vancouver at no cost for this school.

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 British Columbia program and 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.