Contributed by Maureen Nanna, ABC-VA Operations Director and Certified First Aid and CPR Instructor
I’ve been teaching CPR/First Aid for close to a decade now. I have scores of examples to share with the class, but every now and then someone shares a personal story that makes a lasting impact on me.
One of those stories was from a man who had to perform CPR on his work mate. He shared that although he felt absolutely prepared for the situation and knew what to do, he was not prepared for what the situation looked like and felt like. He also was not prepared for what the emergency took out of him.
You see, after years of practicing on plastic dummie “Annie”, the reality he was facing was not so clean and easy. That day, he performed CPR for more than 30 minutes as he waited for the ambulance to arrive. When the EMTs finally reached his side, he collapsed in exhaustion on the victim’s chest. He was so weak he couldn’t even lift himself out of the way; yet just a moment before he had been steadily performing CPR.
It’s amazing what can be done when you are focused on helping. The adrenaline is flowing in concert with the critical nature of the situation. That focus and adrenaline gave him the ability to override his exhaustion and allowed him to continue in spite of the fact the victim had lost bladder control and had white phlegm coming from his mouth. His mind moved beyond the all of the factors that would normally inhibit him and gave his best effort.
Despite the man’s best efforts, the victim did not survive. But what did live on is this man’s story. He knew what to do and will live out his days knowing that he did everything possible to give his work mate a chance to survive.