Secondary schools in SD83 are being equipped with an automated external defibrillator thanks to several generous donations from the ACT Foundation and Pinnacle Renewable Energy in Armstrong.
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Each year approximately 40,000 people suffer SCA in Canada and early and effective CPR is the key. The AED is safe to use and won’t deliver a shock unless there is a shockable rhythm.
After hearing about a student in Osoyoos whose life was saved recently by an AED and knowing some schools didn’t have AEDs, two long time staff members at Pinnacle Renewable Energy in Armstrong, Ron and Pam Llewellyn, suggested that employees fundraise to purchase an AED for the high school in Armstrong, Pleasant Valley Secondary School.
At a small presentation ceremony on Wednesday, May 8 at PVSS, Pinnacle Senior plant manager Jamie Colliss commented he thought the idea was a great suggestion, and said instead of employees donating, the company could purchase it, especially considering Pinnacle’s commitment to safety both on the work site and off. “We’re very happy to be able to donate this AED as a small token of our commitment to the safety and well-being of our youth and community.”
The other four high schools in SD83 will be receiving AEDs thanks to a $6,000 donation from the ACT Foundation, a charitable foundation that works to establish free CPR and defibrillator training programs in Canadian secondary schools. Along with its provincial partner, British Columbia Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), and ACT’s national health partners AstraZeneca, Amgen Canada, and Sanofi Canada, the Foundation has established 1,755 high school programs across Canada and trained over 3.8 million students in using an AED and rendering CPR. Training to use the AEDs is currently taking place.
On hand for the AED presentation to PVSS and the roll out of all the AEDs in SD83 high schools were the Llewellyn’s, Colliss, BCEHS representative and paramedic Kathy Crandlemire, Zoll rep Dale Loyer and Canada Safety Equipment rep Luis Santos.
This is not the first time SD83 has benefited from a donation from the ACT Foundation. In 2011 the ACT Foundation helped SD83 set up a lifesaving CPR and defibrillator training program in all of its high schools. The program is built on ACT’s award-winning community-based model of partnerships and support. ACT finds local partners who donate the mannequins, AED training units and AEDs to schools. BCEHS paramedics volunteer their time to train teachers as instructors for their students. Secondary school teachers then teach CPR and how to use an AED to their students as a regular part of the curriculum, reaching all youth prior to graduation.
“The program is so important with research indicating that early CPR combined with early defibrillation can increase the chance of survival for cardiac arrest victims by up to 75 per cent. Five hundred (500) students in the five secondary schools of School District 83 are trained each year to save lives at home and in their communities,” comments Karen Cook, the program co-ordinator for the ACT Foundation. Read more about the important work of the ACT Foundation at www.actfoundation.ca
At the presentation of the AED to PVSS, teacher Doug Brown discussed how students are trained to do CPR and use the AEDs. Paramedic Kathy Crandlemire discussed the importance of AEDs and explained about the PAD program, and Dale Loyer thanked the district for embarking on this program and talked about sudden cardiac arrest and the key role AEDs and CPR play in saving lives.