Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Life You Save

Blessings Darlings!

First aid/CPR/EMT training is an area you need training AND MIND TRAINING to be able to use in a crisis.  I know - I've seen someone fail at this, someone who was fully trained.  Let me tell you that story....
October 28, 1999, I believe the date was, a typical fall day.  I'd taken part of the morning off work to go to the opthamologist since I needed new glasses, but gotten back to work at the credit-counseling place by 11 am. The office had been noisy the day before, with folks cutting down the ornamental cherry trees outside our windows, but it was quiet this day. My supervisor, M, and I were going over some payments from my clients to more effectively pay off their debts.  She'd been off work the week before, in the hospital due to heart problems.

Suddenly M put her head down on the desk, then fell off her chair to the floor unconscious.  I called out to the office, "Folks, we have a problem" (shades of Apollo 13!) and dialed 911. By the time I explained the situation to 911, everyone had rushed to my office.

"Everyone" included T, who was a volunteer with one of the local Fire Departments.  She regularly bragged about her skills, her training, her ability to scrape victims off the streets, etc.  So we all rather looked to her to take charge.  Instead, she freaked out.  She TORE the chair that M's legs were still entangled with out from M's legs.  She left M in the position she had fallen in.  She varied between encouraging the gasping M to keep breathing and running to other offices in the building to ask if anyone knew CPR, not staying long enough to get an answer.  She (and others in the office) kept calling 911 because the response time was achingly slow (WE could have driven to the fire station in 8 minutes, and it took them 18 minutes to show up, bells and whistles going.)  911 started putting all calls from our office on hold.

M stopped breathing.  At this point "A", a woman from the office next to ours, came by to ask WHY we were looking for someone who could do CPR.  Like me, she'd been trained in CPR several decades earlier.  She and I were the ones who did the CPR on M until the paramedics finally arrived, used their defibrillator,  got M's heart started again, and took her to the hospital.

T's meltdown could have killed M.  No brain is good for going something like 13 minutes without oxygen circulating thru' it.  Luckily, M ended up with 'only' a concussion from hitting the concrete floor, a knee problem from the yanking of the chair, and some memory loss.  I'm thinking that this incident was what finally got her doctor to give her a pacemaker/defibrillator.  I'm also thinking that had she been a white woman, not a Black woman, her doctor would have already have given her the pacemaker/defibrillator, because even with insurance there's a clear difference in medical interventions done in the US, but that's a story for a different day.

T had far more up to date skills than A and I had, but A and I stayed functional enough to actually do something useful with the skills we had.  THAT was was mattered.

Ironically, or perhaps logically, the rest of the day almost everyone else in my office were basket cases.  Me, I did tear up a few times, for sure.  But I also burned energy loading the trunk of my car with that recently cut cherry wood.  And I was the only staffer who counseled any more clients that day.

Being functional breeds CONTINUING to be functional, possibly because you don't have guilt or self-recrimination going.

Go forth and be functional.

Frondly, Fern

1 comment:

  1. I've seen people stand by and watch as someone very nearly bled to death, even being unwilling to call an ambulance on their cell--they did not want to get involved.

    Like you, I can think during a crisis and more importantly, act on those thoughts. Every person ought to know the basics of first aid and CPR. Chances are good that at some point they will come in handy and quite possibly to preserve the life of loved one.