Thank you, Coach Mike! – St. Mother Teresa High School basketball coach saves student’s life

“I can tell you as a mom, receiving that phone call was nothing short of traumatic,” Stephanie Muldoon said when reflecting on the emergency call she received about her son, Zach. On October 28, 2021, Zach collapsed suddenly after his heart stopped during basketball tryouts at St. Mother Teresa High School

“My instincts kicked in immediately. Thankfully I had ACT training,” says Team Coach Mike Rowley. The coach and educator instantly recognized what was happening and leaped into action. While the Assistant Coach, Yvan, called emergency services. Coach Rowley stabilized Zach by relying on his CPR training and the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device provided to the school by the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation.

Zach was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and into emergency surgery. He underwent a life-saving open-heart procedure for a previously unknown heart defect. Zack’s mom said she is forever grateful for all who helped save her son’s life. “To hear repeatedly in the days that followed from paramedics, ER physicians, and the team of cardiologists that had the coach not responded so quickly performing CPR and using the AED, Zach would not be with us today is a great reminder to advocate for AED in all high school gyms and sports facilities.

As an educator at St. Mother Teresa, Mike Rowley had access to free CPR and AED training through the ACT Foundation. For almost 30 years, the ACT Foundation has provided this training to 1800 high schools across Canada. St. Mother Teresa High School’s program has been active since 1998.

“It can happen to a family member, a friend, or anyone. You wouldn’t expect a young athlete to have a cardiac arrest, but I’m an example of what did happen,” says Zach. 

The Ottawa Catholic School Board is thankful that Zach is fully recovered from surgery. We are grateful and proud that Coach Mike relied on the training he had to save a life.

Thank you, Coach Mike!

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