There are two kinds of people when it comes to medical emergencies—the first is the person who immediately responds and the second is the person who looks for someone else to respond. Which are you?
Three times in my life I have been in the room when there was a medical emergency, generally choking. The first time was 20+ years ago at a Piccadilly restaurant. A young man was choking on a chicken bone. He was sitting at a table with about 10 family members none of whom responded, they just looked at him in horror. My best friend noticed and immediately jumped up and ran over to him. She was one second too late as another diner, a man, got there first performed the Heimlich and the bone popped out.
The second time I was with a client. We had just walked into a restaurant and a lady had her hands crossed at her throat (the international sign of choking) and her companion sat there clueless as to what to do. My client and I looked at each other and I said to her “you go” and she looked at me and said “you go.” Neither of us went nor did we have to because a man jumped up right behind her and performed the Heimlich three times before the food came out.
The third time I was with two colleagues and one felt faint. Again, I looked at my other colleague like “Do something” she looked at me and said, “I don’t know what to do” …instinctively, when I am the only option in the room I will act and we all got through it just fine.
I had to ask myself, what’s up with me that I am unable to immediately assist another human being who is in trouble? I decided it’s because I feel like I might fail or I am simply not trained on exactly what to do. At the end of the day, I want to be the type of person that responds quickly, the kind of person that can say “I got you” if something happens.
My friend Jenn called me recently and said, “will you take a CRP and First Aid course with me?” I immediately said yes. She researched it and we took the course this week. We were trained by a wonderful woman named “Joy” with a passion for CPR training. Boy, did I learn a lot compared to what I learned 20 years ago in a similar training. A lot has changed.
Let’s look at some facts below from the American Heart Association.
Heart Disease is the #1 cause of death both in the US and Globally for men and women. Below I differentiate between Cardiac Arrest and a Heart Attack.
Cardiac Arrest is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. It is a leading cause of death. Each year more than 350,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests occur with 90 percent of the people dying. If CPR is performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, it doubles or triples that person’s chance of surviving.
A heart attack is when there is blocked flow to the heart. Symptoms can occur many days, weeks or months prior to the event. When someone has a heart attack you call 911 and watch to see if they are breathing and if their chest is moving. If not, they are in Cardiac arrest. You would begin the CPR process.
Know the difference.
One big change that has taken place over the years is the training on the AED kit. AED is an Automated External Defibrillator Machine. Most office buildings now have this life changing machine on each floor. I am happy to say I now know how to use it. I just became certified in a one man and two-man rescue.
Understanding there is a lot to keep in mind when in a high stress situation, repeated practice certainly helps. Below are some things I learned that may be of general interest when confronted with any emergency whether it be a cardiac arrest, heart attack, car accident or other event.
1) Always assess the Scene. Is it safe? If its a car accident is there a gas leak, oil leak or other explosive element? Is there fire? Are there dangerous fumes? First rule: if it is not safe you are hindering the rescue by putting yourself in danger. Stay Back and call 911 allowing the trained EMT and firefighters to handle the situation. Otherwise, there are now two people in danger.
2) If Cardiac arrest, first assign roles. Point to someone and say, “man in red, call 911”. If the person is on a bed, drag them to a hard surface, like the floor and then bang on the person and say are you okay? Don’t be gentle. If no response put your ear to their nose, look at their chest for movement and put your fingers on their carotid artery. If nothing—remove clothing on their chest and begin CPR the 30 compressions – 2 Breaths cycle. Press hard to a 2” depth, it’s okay if you break their sternum.
3) While you are doing this say, “man in red Call 911 and get me an AED kit” an Automated External Defibrillator. Continue with 30 compressions and two breaths. People watching emergencies need to be told what to do. Be direct, assign a specific person to a task. Ask for the AED kit.
4) When AED kit arrives if it is two-man rescue have the other person remove AED, turn it on, connect pads to the person, plug pads into the machine and “Clear”. The machine will say testing—then it will tell you if a shock is recommended and will start charging. You continue compressions while the machine charges and until the machine, and rescuer two says “clear.” All hands must be off the person. Rescuer two hits the shock button and immediately following the shock Rescuer one continues compressions and breaths. The machine will calculate the person’s need for electrical shock every two minutes.
5) Do compressions and Breaths until EMT care arrives.
Whew! It is stressful to even repeat the process.
After taking the class and understanding the process I am convinced everyone needs a basic understanding of CPR, AEDs and First Aid. If you haven’t taken a course in recent years my suggestion is to consider taking one. The life you save may be a loved one, a colleague or a stranger. At the very least you will know you have done your best to assist in a situation where your help was needed.
Wouldn’t you wish the same for yourself if the roles were reversed? Wouldn’t you be grateful if someone saved your life? Back to the original question- What would you do? What will you do?
Simply go to the American Heart Association Website and locate a class in your area. For Atlanta readers, I highly recommend Joy Carter for individual training or for your business.
“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help Someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”
Until next time,