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North Van students receive CPR and defibrillator training

School district now has AEDs in all seven high schools

In the event of a medical emergency, North Vancouver secondary students might be a good group to turn to for help, following a demonstration of student proficiency at CPR and use of an AED held Friday morning at Sutherland Secondary.

The demonstration was part of a launch event for the North Vancouver School District’s new life-saving training program. The program covers the administration of cardio pulmonary resuscitation as well as the use of an automated external defibrillator, which can jump-start a person’s heart using an electric shock.

“Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time,” said Nick Smith, unit chief with BC Emergency Health Services, who was one of several speakers and community partners at the event. “Lives can be saved or lost in just a matter of seconds.”

The school district phased in defibrillators at all seven of its North Vancouver high schools starting in September, noted school district spokeswoman Deneka Michaud, adding that prior to this school year, the AEDs would have “only been in schools where a specific student or staff member was an identified need.”

With some teachers and administrators having now been trained on the life-saving devices, North Van high school students are starting to receive their own training on how to use AEDs and administer CPR through a new program established by the Advanced Coronary Treatment Foundation, a national charity devoted to getting such life-saving training into Canadian high schools.

The foundation initially partnered with the Deep Cove Lions Club and Rotary Club of Lions Gate, whose sponsorship allowed the foundation to offer North Van teachers and administrators the necessary training materials – such as mannequins and training defibrillators – as well as provide the know-how to then educate students.

“It’s a train-the-trainer model,” said Michaud, noting that Sutherland students are currently receiving education in CPR and AEDs as part of their physical education curriculum.

It’ll be up to individual North Vancouver high schools to determine how to best administer the CPR and defibrillator training, added Michaud.

“It provides valuable skills for the students so if they’re out and about, not only do they now have the CPR training to be able to save lives, but also if they are somewhere where an AED is nearby … they know how to use that as well,” said Michaud.

Defibrillators have been in place at West Vancouver high schools for several years.

Administering CPR or defibrillation within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest can increase a person’s chance of survival by up to 50 per cent, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Alex McDonald, a Grade 10 student at Sutherland, was one of more than a dozen students who participated in Friday’s demonstration. He said he hopes he never has to use his newly acquired skill set in CPR and AEDs, but was glad he has been trained to use them nonetheless.

“It gives me the confidence to know that if someone goes down, I’m there,” said McDonald. “I can help them.”