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School District No. 53 Okanagan-Similkameen Teachers to Empower Local Students to Save Lives

OLIVER, BC, 01/30/09

On January 30th, nine teachers from School District No. 53 Okanagan-Similkameen will be trained to empower their students with lifesaving CPR and heart health education through the award-winning ACT High School CPR Program.

Teachers from Osoyoos Secondary School, Similkameen Elementary/Secondary School and Southern Okanagan Secondary School will participate in the ACT High School CPR Teacher Training Workshop at the School District Board Office (Annex). This training will enable the teachers to empower 255 local youth with CPR each year.

The Advanced Coronary Treatment Foundation in partnership with the British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS) and the Ambulance Paramedics of BC – CUPE Local 873 (APBC) is working to bring the ACT High School CPR Program to all BC youth. In School District No. 53 Okanagan-Similkameen, ACT is receiving funding from lead community partner Interior Savings Credit Union. Thanks to a grant of almost $8,000, participating secondary schools in Osoyoos, Keremeos and Oliver will receive curriculum materials as well as 70 CPR mannequins. This grant is part of a larger grant totaling $36,800 from Interior Savings Credit Union to bring the ACT High School CPR Program to the secondary schools in School Districts No. 53 Okanagan-Similkameen, No. 58 Nicola-Similkameen, and No.73 Kamloops/Thompson.

“Training teachers to teach youth how to save a life is a tremendous asset to our communities,” says Gene Creelman, VP Marketing and Communications of Interior Savings. “This program will have many benefits since it is sustainable over time, and we will continue to see its positive impact year after year.”

The ACT High School CPR Program is built on a strong community-based model of partnerships and support, whereby ACT helps communities find local partners who donate the mannequins, curriculum materials, and teacher training that schools need to set up the program. Secondary school teachers then teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum, reaching all youth prior to graduation. In BC, ACT is partnering with BCAS and APBC to establish the program in all BC public secondary schools. Full implementation in this province will see approximately 50,000 youth trained in CPR annually.

Teacher training in BC is provided by local paramedics, who volunteer their time to prepare teachers to teach the program to their students. The January 30 teacher training is being provided by Wayne Smith, BCAS Paramedic and CPR instructor. The ACT High School CPR Program is supported at the national level by companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis.

Cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of death and accounts for more than one fifth of all deaths in BC. Research indicates citizen CPR response can improve survival rate for victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest by almost fourfold. With eight in 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurring at home, empowering youth with CPR training as part of their high school education will help increase citizen CPR response rates over the long term.

“It’s estimated that only 15 per cent of British Columbians know CPR,” said BCAS Vice-President of Medical Programs Dr. Jim Christenson. “Even with the best technology, medical expertise and timely deployment of first responders, the best chance for someone in cardiac arrest is still to have a bystander perform CPR until paramedics can provide professional CPR and defibrillation.”

In addition to empowering youth to save lives, the ACT Program has a strong health promotion message, says Sandra Clarke, Executive Director of the ACT Foundation. “Students learn about risk factors for heart disease and the importance of adopting heart healthy lifestyle behaviors at a young age. They will then bring their health promotion message and lifesaving skills to their present and future families,” says Clarke.

To date, the ACT Foundation has set up the ACT High School CPR Program in over 1,200 schools nation-wide, empowering more than 900,000 youth to save lives.

About the ACT Foundation

The ACT Foundation is a national, award-winning charitable organization dedicated to promoting health and empowering Canadians to save lives. ACT is driving a national campaign to establish CPR as a mandatory program in every Canadian high school. ACT raises funds for CPR mannequins for schools and guides schools in program set up. The Foundation and its core partners are winners of Imagine Canada’s “New Spirit of Community Partnership” Award. Core partners 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. For more information visit: www.actfoundation.ca.