The three year plan to implement automated external defibrillators (AEDs) into SD83 schools got a boost as the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO) donated an AED to Grindrod Elementary School.

“We greatly appreciate RDNO’s support in our program to support students and the community by installing these important life-saving equipment,” said Superintendent of Schools/CEO Peter Jory.

SD83 has a three year plan to implement AEDs in all schools and operational facilities in the school district. 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.

This past year, year two of the program, an additional 12 have been purchased and are being installed. These were made possible by trustees directing any surplus trustee professional development funds to the purchase of AEDs in schools plus the donation of an AED to Grindrod Elementary by Regional District of North Okanagan.

In 2019 there were eight installed. Two middle schools and all the secondary schools in SD83 were equipped with an automated external defibrillator thanks to several generous donations from a local couple, the ACT Foundation, and Pinnacle Renewable Energy in Armstrong.

A family’s tragedy inspired a Salmon Arm couple to donate automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to two schools in School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap). This kind and generous donation from Rosemary and Andy Foster means there are now AEDs in place at Carlin Elementary Middle School and Shuswap Middle School.

On Feb. 10, 2018 the unthinkable happened to Rosemary and Andy when their 15 year old grandson Jeremy died in his sleep. Rosemary, who found him, did CPR until the ambulance arrived but unfortunately it was to no avail.

“The AEDs are a worthwhile cause and something fitting in remembrance of Jeremy. He was an amazing young man, generous, caring and very intelligent. I had big aspirations for him.”

“He would have graduated from Sullivan in 2019,” Rosemary added.

An autopsy later determined that Jeremy, who had never complained or been diagnosed with any heart-related illness except for an irregular heartbeat, had died of heart complications. He had an enlarged heart and the walls of his heart were already hardening up.

After hearing about a student in Osoyoos whose life was saved 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.

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 received 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 takes place after AEDs are installed.

On hand for the AED presentation to PVSS in 2019 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 benefitted 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

This story has been reproduced with permission from School District 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap). The original posting can be found here.