Montreal teen saves her friend from choking

No one ever prepares for a birthday dinner with the thought of having to save a life in the back of their mind. Yet, that is exactly the experience Julia, 17, encountered one evening in March.She and a group of friends were having dinner at a restaurant, when one of her friends started coughing. “She grabbed her chest, gasping for air. I looked at her and asked her if she was okay. She couldn’t speak; she was shaking her head as if to say I need help”, recalls Julia.

Being the only one of the group trained in CPR, Julia felt the responsibility to step in and ACT. Remembering the steps she had learned during her high school CPR and AED course, she took the matter into her own hands. She asked her friend to stand up and started giving the abdominal thrusts. After four strong thrusts, Julia’s friend finally gasped for air. “She started breathing again. She turned around and started crying, she was completely in shock. I told her to sit down and to breathe in and out.”


“Knowing that I’m capable of saving someone’s life made me more confident. I know that if I’m in that situation again, I will have the confidence to ACT,” affirms Julia about the event.

Looking back on her CPR training, Julia acknowledges that it had not only prepared her to act and save her friend’s life, but also that it played a most influential role in the choice of her career. “I will be going to Vanier College to study health sciences. I always enjoyed the sciences, but the CPR training confirmed my decision. It made me want to go through with it.”

The ACT High School CPR program was set up in Julia’s school in Montreal, Quebec in 2006. In 2013 the training program was enhanced with an addition of the defibrillator training component. This initiative was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Government of Quebec and of our national health partners, AstraZeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi Canada who are committed to bringing the program in all Quebec high schools.

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing 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 2.9 million youth have been trained in CPR by their teachers through this lifesaving program to date.

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