Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Award

Date / Period
Toronto, Ontario
Object Type
First Aid

Every day, ordinary citizens respond in extraordinary ways to the distress of those around them. These efforts are recognized each year through the Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Awards. This photo shows recipient Derek Thompson, who received the award in 2001.

Thompson, an employee of the Greater Toronto Area transportation company Metrolinx, used his first aid skills to save a passenger’s life. The GO Customer Service Ambassador was working at Toronto’s Union Station when a 60-year-old male passenger collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Thinking fast on his feet, Thompson grabbed a first aid kit containing an automated external defibrillator (AED) and started CPR. Within seconds, the passenger started to breathe again.

“I was trying to stay calm and confident and do the best I could,” Thompson told the Toronto Star. 

Each year since 2006, these national awards, sponsored by Walmart Canada, have honoured the actions of citizens who made a difference. This includes children who, although untrained, responded intelligently in a crisis, for instance, by phoning Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Adults, both off-duty first responders and non-professional rescuers, may be recognized for saving lives, preventing further injury, or providing comfort to those in distress.

Canadians have received Rescuer Awards for actions such as assisting choking victims, performing artificial respiration (AR) or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on unconscious victims, or offering other forms of first aid. Others have performed water-based rescues or treated hypothermia. One recipient cleared the airway of an infant found abandoned in a public washroom, and kept the baby warm until EMS could arrive.

These are the actions of everyday heroes. Although the intervention does not need to have been successful in order to merit recognition, many recipients saved lives through their actions. This is one reason Red Cross First Aid training and water safety programs are so important: the more people trained to respond in an emergency, the safer everyone will be.

Do you, or someone you know, deserve a Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Award? Help celebrate everyday heroism by completing the nomination form online.

Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Award

Rescuer award
Derek Thompson, a Metrolinx employee, used his first aid skills to save a passenger’s life.
Rescuer Award

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