By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Students tried in vain to revive a 15-year-old boy who overdosed at a party on Wednesday, but the rubber CPR training mannequin laid lifeless on the stretcher.
The scene was a re-enactment of what Randy Lalonde refers to as his “worst call,” after two decades of being a Cornwall/SDG EMS paramedic.
East Front Public School student Madison Fell pumped an oxygen mask over the mannequin’s face, while another youth pushed on its chest. A stark realization crept across their faces, as Lalonde informed them that the teen died from a drug overdose.
For the 12th year, he shared the cautionary tale at Racing Against Drugs (RAD). The 17th edition of the four-day event kicked off at the Cornwall Armoury on Tuesday.
“It was upsetting to experience someone losing their life to drugs,” said Fell.
Lalonde noted that helping to save the boy’s life was made even more difficult since it was unknown what he had taken. The students also watched several short video clips of intoxicated individuals vomiting on themselves in public places or having seizures from abusing drugs and alcohol.
“He went to that party to have fun, not to die,” said Lalonde. “Never again will you be able to say you didn’t know the dangers because I just told you.”
The group of thirty-four East Front students rotated between 10 different ‘Pit Stop’ stations. Each one contained information on the dangers of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, and the benefits of making health lifestyle choices.
Other participating schools on Wednesday included: Iona Academy, East Front, Williamstown, Bishop MacDonell, Immaculate, Sacred Heart, and Akwesasne (since the annual RAD in the Mohawk territory wasn’t held this year).
Once the students completed the rotation they were brought back together to a large slot car track where representatives from each school competed to win the “race against drugs.”
“Today taught me to be very careful and to always ask what things are before you try them,” said Fell.
RCMP Const. Jean Juneau, RAD organizer, said nearly 1,150 Grade 6 students will have participated. Before each one left, they signed a pledge to say no to drugs.