Students from Branksome Hall and Bishop Strachan School awarded for saving a life


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Morgyn McKerlie, Samantha Teasdale and Claire Stirling.

In the beat of a heart, things can change so fast.

Two Branksome Hall students and their friend from Bishop Strachan School learned that lesson the hard way after helping to save a soul thanks to their quick and knowledgeable application of first aid and CPR.

Branksome Grade 11 students Morgyn McKerlie and Claire Stirling, both 16, and Bishop Strachan Grade 12 student Samantha Teasdale, 18, were recently awarded by the Toronto Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and nominator Nick Manos for heroic actions. 

The trio were taking their lunch break from swimming instructor classes at a café near St. Clair Avenue and Dufferin Street in mid-December when an elderly man came in. They explained that the man, who had sat on a walker, collapsed backwards to the floor, gasping for air and turning purple.

Well versed in CPR, through the swimming courses they’d all been taking for several years, the three went into action, controlling the chaotic scene of people milling around and attending to the stricken man. Teasdale said she and McKerlie set about compressions while Stirling controlled the scene and ran back to the centre to retrieve its defibrillation machine. The café owner dialled 911, and while EMS was en route, the  threesome was able to get the man breathing again.

“You wonder, if the [life-saving] situation ever comes up, will I freeze, will I be able to do what I need to, and we did,” Teasdale said.

“I think all the training we had drilled into our heads helped; we knew what to do and just did it,” added Stirling.

Level three paramedic Manos, who was one of the EMS responders to the call, said their actions should be an inspiration to everyone to get training in CPR.

“It cannot be overemphasized enough that speed (in giving CPR) is so vital,” he said. “The only reason this man had a chance at survival is because of what these girls did.”

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