On the recent April17th Professional Development Day six teachers from Sir Alexander Secondary School and Ascwalscta School became CPR/AED instructors for their students. The training was provided by the Advanced Coronary Treatment Foundation (ACT), which is a national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR training in highschools across Canada. More than 223 secondary schools in BC are involved in the program throughout the province and approximately 281,000 BC students have been trained to date.
With financial support from Astra Zeneca Canada, Pfizer Canada and Sanofi Canada, ACT provided training materials, training mannequins, and an AED training unit. Each school will also receive an AED machine to be used for cardiac arrest emergencies during in-school, extracurricular and on site community activities.
BC Emergency Health Services and the BC Ambulance Service are provincial partners in the program. Dr. Michael Smialowski, Cariboo District Medical Advisor for BC Ambulance was on hand to welcome participants and to acknowledge how important their role is in the health and safety of students and of community members.
As a Red Cross community volunteer, a Lifesaving Society First Aid Instructor and the chair of the Central Coast Teachers’ Association’s Professional Development Committee, Coleen Fraser worked with the organizations involved to bring the workshop to Bella Coola. She also volunteered her time to teach the course. She was assisted by Mitch Gurr who has had many years experience as a paramedic and first aid instructor.
The trained teachers will now deliver the program to highschool students at SAMS and Ascwalscta. Students will be taught to handle choking and cardiac arrest emergencies.
As part of their training they are taught to say, “I’ve been trained. I can do this” This simple self-talk statement empowers students, giving them the self-confidence to take charge or to help in an emergency. The involvement of a trained bystander often makes the difference between tragedy and a life saved.
Early CPR and early access to an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) are key links in giving a choking or cardiac arrest victim the best chance of survival. According to Heart and Stroke Foundation statistics early CPR combined with early defibrillation can increase survival rates for cardiac arrest victims by up to 75 percent. The Heart and Stroke Foundation also says that almost all cardiac arrest victims (2,000 people in BC each year!) will die without an electric shock to restart their heart. Survival rates fall by seven to ten percent for every minute that passes without defibrillation.
In addition to the AED’s that will soon be in place at our two highschools, the Bella Coola Valley will also soon have two public access AED’s made available through another program in which the BC Heart and Stroke Foundation has partnered with the Central Coast Regional District. Have you been trained? Will you be the one to step forward and help in an emergency?
Further information about these programs can be found at www.actfoundation.ca or heartand stroke.ca. For information about community CPR courses contact Coleen Fraser.