Posted on 09/29/2008

TORONTO, ON–The Government of Ontario is empowering youth to save lives through a major commitment to the ACT Foundation to support the establishment of defibrillator training in Ontario high schools.

A $1.4 million investment from the province will help the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation train teachers to teach students how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). It will support the placement of defibrillators in Ontario high schools and the purchase of mannequins and other training materials. An unprecedented number of young people will be trained through this initiative.  

“This is a valuable learning opportunity for students — and can help our communities. Young people who are trained and ready to act could save a life,” says Education Minister Kathleen Wynne.

The ACT Foundation launched an AED pilot project in 2007 involving six Ottawa high schools.  Teachers were trained to teach students how to save lives with a defibrillator as an enhancement to their CPR training. Bolstered by today’s announcement, the ACT Foundation will begin to expand the successful Ottawa model throughout Ontario and will be fundraising to find the remaining funds needed to expand this program province wide. 

“This important investment will act as powerful leverage in our efforts to find the funds needed at the community level throughout Ontario ,” says Sandra Clarke , Executive Director of the ACT Foundation . “This wonderful public/private partnership model will propel this program forward.”

About 40,000 Canadians experience cardiac arrest each year, 80% outside of hospital, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. An AED can tell when a heart stops beating effectively and deliver an electric shock to help restart the heart. Using this machine along with CPR can improve cardiac arrest survival rates by up to 50 per cent when used in the first few minutes. Young people trained to perform CPR and to use a defibrillator can help save lives at the scene of a cardiac arrest.

“Easy-to-use defibrillators are appearing in many public places,” says Dr. Justin Maloney , an emergency physician and Medical Director for the ACT Foundation . “The schools already teach young people to act, to start CPR. Now we want them to grab the defibrillator on the wall and use that too. Schools are teaching life skills that save lives.”

The Government of Ontario’s investment in AED training builds on its 2004 commitment to the ACT Foundation in support of the establishment of CPR training in Ontario high schools. Today’s announcement will see AED added as an enhancement to the CPR program. 

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