Defibrillator installed at Pitt secondary

Parents worry about their children on a daily basis, whether they’re at home or at school, but parents of students attending Pitt Meadows Secondary School can breathe easy now that an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator has been installed in the school’s gym.

The AED is a beneficial tool to aid anyone suffering from heart distress that can be caused by numerous instances, including sports. Teachers and students alike were recently trained on how to handle the device and what to do in case of an emergency.

Although teachers are on job action and not required to go through training, 23 teachers showed up to the training seminar.

Parent Advisory Council member Lisa Wild’s son plays on the high school’s basketball team and, thanks to her efforts, the school has received a life-saving gift.

“I’d been thinking about this for two years. There are just so many stories out there about kids dying while playing sports. Basketball is the sport with the highest incidents of heart trauma and death,” she said. “I just thought we’ve got to have one of these in our school. It costs so much money though that I was getting sick to my stomach.”

AED’s roughly cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 once the cost of training is factored in, but thanks to a donation by the Gianfranco Giammaria Memorial Society, the school received its electronic defibrillator for free.

“I stumbled on their website while doing some research and I just shot over an email asking how to go about purchasing an AED for our school and within an hour a man phoned me offering to give us one for free,” Wild said. “ All he wanted in return was for us to spread the word about the foundation and the work they do. I thought, I could easily do that.”

Although the donation process was easy, getting the AED installed was not. Wild was able to secure a defibrillator last May but District protocols and liability issues forced the delay of the installation process.

“It took a while to get it in there. I’ve been holding my breath since last May hoping it didn’t fall through. Not only were there liability issues but the job action from the teachers meant that training would be a nightmare. But, the union said teachers interested in training could still do so under a humanitarian clause, but it’s in there now and teachers and students have been trained.”

In 2008, the GGMS was created to honour the memory of Gianfranco Giammaria, a healthy and young metro Vancouver teacher who suddenly passed away from an unknown heart condition. Since his death, the society has raised thousands of dollars and placed several AED’s throughout buildings in the Lower Mainland.

“He was such an active young man and something like that happened to him. Having that AED is so important because you never know when you’re going to need it,” Wild said. “We don’t know who could have a heart problem and if we can save a life or improve the odds of saving a life by 50 per cent then that’s great. I don’t know why more people aren’t taking advantage of this, the tools are there and the society wants to help, so why not?”

PAC,  Ford fundraise for school

A five-minute test drive could help a Maple Ridge elementary school raise $6,000 to benefit students.

The Albion Elementary Parent Advisory Council is hoping to attract 300 people to the school on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to test drive a new Ford vehicle.

For each person from a unique address who completes a five-minute test drive of a new Ford vehicle, Ford Canada will donate the Albion PAC $20, to a maximum of $6,000, or 300 drivers.

There will be prize draws eligible to those who drive, and the PAC will be providing refreshments to all those who take part.

“Anyone who has a valid license and are willing to spend 15 minutes … could help us reach our goal,” said Albion PAC member Rachel Thompson.

• Albion elementary: 10031 – 240th Street, Maple Ridge.