I received this text the other day from a friend:
This past Saturday a good friend collapsed at our resident picnic. Because of you I was able to tag team her care until professionals arrived. We performed CPR on her for over 10 minutes until they were able to get the paddles on her. We never were successful at resuscitating her, but thanks to you I was skillful enough to help. I’m grateful for that. Longest 10 minutes of my life.
I have to admit I was a little emotional processing what she wrote. She organized and attended my very first Wilderness First Aid class. We practiced so many scenarios in that class, and while none of them were specifically CPR, I am thankful that she was able to apply the skills and knowledge she learned.
I often say that lay responders have a much more difficult job than the professionals do. When I was working as an EMT I knew what I was responding to, I had time to mentally prepare, plan out what equipment I needed from the rig, and what I might need to do while responding. When someone collapses right in front of you there is no time to think or plan – you need to act immediately. This is difficult and challenging, it’s messy and chaotic, it’s overwhelming and frightening. It is not like a class where we can stop and ask questions. Real life emergencies are not like classroom exercises.
The aftermath is just as difficult as the emergency. Did we do all we could? Could we have changed the outcome? These are normal questions to ask and talking things out can often be helpful.
I am thankful that she reached out to me with this text, we’ve continued a discussion which I hope is helpful. I am also so proud of what she and her neighbors accomplished. They didn’t sit idly by and wait for the ambulance, they all acted to try to save a life. This is why I teach the way I do – I want to enable the participants in my classes to act, not just occupy a chair and pass a class. Whether you attend my class or from another instructor, you should leave the class knowing the material and able to respond if an emergency happens. We can’t predict when we might be thrust into an emergency situation, but taking a First Aid CPR AED course and asking a lot of questions, can help prepare if you need to take action to save a life.