A Lifesaving Skill – CPR Training for Heart Institute Patients, Family and Friends

This inspiring CTV News Video tells Mary Armour’s remarkable story of the lifesaving effects of CPR training and easily-accessible AEDs. When Mary had an unexpected cardiac event at work, she was fortunate enough to have some well-trained police and colleagues as well as an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device nearby. Thanks to their swift and effective first aid treatment including CPR and use of the AED, Mary is now one of the less than 2% of people to have survived an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

Participation in cardiac rehabilitation significantly reduces the risk of heart patients sustaining another cardiac event; however, almost one in 5 heart patients will have a second event or require further intervention. As well, the majority of cardiac emergencies happen outside of hospital. For these reasons, since April 2016 the Division of Prevention and Rehabilitation, in collaboration with the Patient Alumni Association and Lionheart CPR, have been offering CPR workshops to patients as well as their family and friends – the people most likely to be present during a repeat cardiac event. 



Michael Wilson, the Lionheart CPR instructor who leads the workshops, says he was inspired by personal events to begin offering these workshops. When Michael’s father had a severely blocked artery, he narrowly avoided a fatal cardiac arrest by having a stent put in.  Once the dust settled, Michael realized that his family members were not trained to respond to a cardiac event with CPR and they were the ones most likely to be around if his father had such an event.  In addition to his personal inspiration for this work, Michael brings to the job a unique skill set having formerly worked in a cardiovascular rehabilitation program, and the workshops are tailored to participants with some form of cardiovascular history (considering, for example, participants’ cardiac concerns and/or musculoskeletal issues). 

The goal of the Heart Institute’s CPR workshop is to help family members, friends and patients to feel more prepared and confident if something happens in the future. While these workshops don’t result in a certification (there is no test at the end), they equip participants with lifesaving skills and help to relieve stress for both patients and caregivers about future events. Some participant feedback:


  • “Gives you courage, takes away fear. Superb teaching style. Thorough and knowledgeable.”
  •  “Excellent course, well presented, clear explanations, questions encouraged and fully answered. I would highly recommend this course to others. Thank you for the opportunity to take such a course!”
  • “Way more people should take this course.”


The Patient Alumni Association is a proud supporter of these workshops and covers half of participants’ costs. 6 to 8 workshops are offered each year at the Heart Institute, with groups of 12-14 people. Since the program’s inception, more than 300 people have been trained. We hope that you will join us and invite your family and friends to participate in this lifesaving course. The next set of workshops will be taking place on Friday, November 29. Register online or check the UOHI calendar for future dates.