Campus hero: Police Foundations student performs CPR, helps save friend’s life

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Canaz Cooper stands at the Welland Campus, just steps away from where his quick, calm actions helped save his friend's life on May 31.

Police Foundations student Canaz Cooper may not consider himself a hero, but that doesn’t change the fact that his actions helped save another student’s life.

The 20-year-old international student who is originally from Nassau, Bahamas, came to the rescue of a friend who collapsed at the Welland Campus after an apparent cardiac arrest on May 31.

His friend said he was experiencing chest pain, and Cooper followed him through the hallway on the way outside to get some air. He witnessed his friend clutching his chest as they walked, soon before he fell and lost consciousness.

Remaining calm, Cooper’s emergency medical training automatically kicked in and he came to his friend’s aid. He checked for his pulse and vital signs, then began CPR. After a couple of minutes, his friend regained consciousness.

“I knew he was going to be fine because I knew what I had to do,” said Cooper.

Campus security supervisor Jack Redpath noted that they received a call about the incident that took place shortly after 12:30 p.m., just outside of the bookstore. Staff arrived to find Cooper performing CPR on an unresponsive male student. Redpath noted that paramedics soon arrived on the scene and transported the student to hospital where he was later released.

“At the time the victim lost consciousness it was determined by the victim’s friend, Canaz Cooper, that vital signs were absent. Canaz, without hesitation, commenced chest compressions and continued until the victim regained consciousness,” said Redpath. “All were impressed by Canaz Cooper’s quick yet calm response which would appear to have saved his friend’s life.”

Manager of Campus Security and Parking David Jastrubecki noted that a passerby initially contacted 911 and the College’s Security Control Centre. A supervisor from the College’s Nursing program was on the scene and assisted along with Campus Safety personnel. The incident was also captured by a security camera.

“If it wasn’t for the quick actions taken by Mr. Canaz Cooper in providing medical assistance, the situation could have resulted quite differently for the individual who was in apparent state of cardiac arrest,” said Jastrubecki. “Also, a major contributor was the support provided by others (students and staff) in contacting 911, lending assistance to Mr. Cooper, meeting and directing EMS and Fire Department personnel to the location.”

Despite his heroic actions, Cooper takes it in stride, shrugging it off as “just another day.” “These things can happen at any time and I’m happy I know how to respond,” he said.

Helping others has always been a part of Cooper’s nature. He views it as following in the footsteps of his parents: his father was a police officer and his mother a nurse – both are now retired.

Motivated by his desire to help others, he enrolled in an emergency medical technician course during the summer of 2016 before he came to Canada. That’s where he learned CPR and learned how to deal with other emergency situations.

“I’ve always been interested in helping people. Growing up, I either wanted to be a police officer or a paramedic,” he said.

His decision to become a police officer after high school led  Cooper to study at Niagara College. He noted that he was drawn to NC due to its positive reputation as a Canadian college. On a more personal level, he was interested in experiencing a new country, learning a new culture, and living in a place “where it snows.”

Cooper, who is currently a Welland resident, is enjoying his new life in Canada and his time at NC. He is currently in his second year of the Police Foundations program.

“The people are so friendly here and I like that it’s such a multicultural place,” he said. “I hope to stay in Canada.”

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