SAVING A LIFE IS
NOT THAT SIMPLE
For about 40 years now, I've been meaning to take one of
those CPR classes, just in case I came across some poor soul who needed me
to save their life.
Luckily for that poor soul and me, procrastination prevailed
and I never had to stand idly by while someone screamed "DOES ANYONE
KNOW CPR?" Responding that I never quite got around to it probably
wouldn't go over well.
But now that I'm in my 60's, I figured friends will be
dropping left and right, and it would be nice to give one or two of them a
few more years when they collapse at my feet. So off I went last week to
get my CPR certificate.
Naturally, I brought my wife along with me. We could save
lives together, just like the Baywatch team. And if she happened to bring
me back to life someday, that would be nice, too.
There were 10 of us in the class, and our paramedic
instructor, Ron, was 30 minutes late, which didn't bode well for the
industry. But when he finally arrived, he brought out 10 dummies, each
adorned with a t-shirt with local logos such as Giants, Warriors, Bay to
"I'll take the 49er dummy," I announced to the
group as I grabbed it and took it to my corner. "You can't get any
closer to death than that."
Sure enough, my 49er dummy was lifeless and
unresponsive as I listened to Ron explain the steps to hopefully bring it
back to its former glory. I watched him demonstrate CAB, which stood for
Compression, Airway and Breathing.
When he said that the rate of pumping the chest should be to
the beat of the Bee Gee's song, "Staying Alive," my wife
suggested I might consider dropping the class.
"With your sense of rhythm, your dummy has no
chance," she whispered, looking at my comatose 49er.
I was on my knees on a hard floor, trying to pump life into
my dummy. And my knees don't like being on a hard floor.
"If you ever collapse with sudden cardiac arrest and
expect me to save you, " I said, grimacing. "you'd be wise to do
it on a nice, soft carpet. Otherwise, you're on your own. "
Having mastered the art of compression (I overcame my rhythm
problems), we moved on to Airways and Breathing. There was much discussion
about how to protect yourself from blood, vomit and disease while giving
mouth-to-mouth. That was fun.
A pocket mask with a breathing tube is your best bet. The
only problem is it never seems to be available when you need one. But no
one said saving a life is supposed to be easy.
Then it was on to AED devices, or more commonly known as de-fibrillators.
They're all over airports and some other public places, and when used
properly, while also performing CPR, can shock the heart back into a
Ron opened the kit and instructed us on how to use the very
simple device. He explained that the kit comes with a razor and if our
victim's chest is hairy, he (I'm guessing it's a he) will need to be
shaved in order for the pads to stick properly.
My wife and I immediately thought of a couple of our hairy
male friends who look like they're wearing a sweater when they take their
shirts off. Garden shears might be more appropriate for the kit, rather
than a razor. By the time the shaving was finished and the hair was
finally gone, they'd be history.
We had done it, though. We were now certified in CPR for the
next two years, at which time we'd have to go through the course again.
Someone from the American Heart Association obviously figured that it was
possible to forget everything we learned after two years.
I admired their optimism. A one week certificate would
probably make more sense for me. The good news is that I asked for and
received a business card which I could put in my wallet and had all the
steps to take for a successful CPR. I figured if I was trying to save
someone's life, they wouldn't mind if I used a cheat sheet.
As for my 49er dummy, he was as dead as ever after the 4 hour
class. Sorry. Miracles don't always happen.