As a fitness professional, I have been certified in CPR for over 10 years now, and I'm both proud to possess the skills, and happy that I've never really had to use them! Well, almost...
Imagine yourself in a situation where someone is hurt, apparently not breathing, and you are the only one on the scene that knows CPR! At that moment in time, YOU are the one that can affect the outcome of whether or not this person lives or dies.
I'm also AED (Automated External Defibrillator) trained and certified. If you go into cardiac arrest, I know how to use the AED device to shock your heart muscle, thus allowing it to resume beating in a normal rhythm. Scary, yes, but a very necessary skill to have, not only for fitness pros, but for any and everyone!
So, do you know CPR? How about using the AED device? The acronym CPR stands for Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, which is really just providing the oxygen via breaths that an injured person may not be able to deliver to their own organs, body and brain through natural breathing. AED stands for automated Automated External Defibrillator, which is a device you would use for someone experiencing a cardio infarction (heart attack) and their heart goes into ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia (the heart twitches ineffectively and cannot pump blood). The AED delivers electric current to the heart muscle, momentarily stunning the heart, stopping all activity. This gives the heart an opportunity to resume beating effectively.
I think that everyone from housewives to CEO's should know how to help keep a person alive and oxygen flowing through a victim's system until paramedics arrive. The fact is, you never know when a person close by you might need this help. CPR and AED training is available through the Red Cross and various other organizations, and is not that expensive to learn and get certified in. Another good thing to know is what to do when someone in the vicinity is choking or having a seizure. YOU could be the difference between that person living or dying.
This is serious stuff, and pretty scary when it happens, but wouldn't you like to at least be able to know what to do in these situations?
One day a few years ago I was teaching a step class. We were rockin' it, and in the midst of me showing a cool, hop and twirl move, all of a sudden, I heard a huge, loud THUD!! I looked into the mirror before me, and a couple rows back, a woman that took my class all the time had fallen off her step and was on the floor convulsing! It was obvious that she was having a seizure or some kind of epileptic fit! Can I just say, time stood still, and went into this weird, surreal slow motion? It was like being on the moon, the air was so thick.
OMG, as soon as everyone in the class realized what was going on, the room went crazy!
People were yelling "Oh My God!", and one woman started this high pitched scream. A few people were frozen in place. Others ran over to the woman, and began touching her.
I jumped off my step and ran over to her. The woman was on her back and convulsing hard, her eyes rolling back in her head.
Now, different people have different reactions in this type of situation. Some people panic, step back and get lost in their own fear. Others decide to help, but don't have the expertise to do so. A scene like this tends to erupt into pure bedlam. I had some people in the class yelling out different instructions all at once. "Get a towel and stick it over her tongue so she doesn't choke on it!" "Get some cold water and put it on her face!" another one yelled. "Roll her on her stomach!" someone else offered.
I knew that these were all wrong, and not only did I have to help this woman, but I had to calm everyone else in the room and keep them away from her, even though I knew that they all had the best of intentions. It was a madhouse and an unbelievably surreal scene. But in the midst of it all, being the trained professional and boss of the room, it was my job to reign everything in all at once.
First of all, never stick anything in a seizure victim's mouth. That is an old wives tale; "stick a spoon in the mouth to keep the person from choking on their tongue". How many times have you heard that one? NO. What you do is first, as the rules of CPR clearly instruct, check the scene for any dangerous elements. As this was a controlled environment, I didn't even have to go there, with the exception of keeping well meaning members from touching this still convulsing woman. I followed what I had learned: check the scene...DONE, as soon as I got everyone else to STAND BACK. Get someone to call for help - I instructed one member to call 911 and another to run down to the front desk and alert them of what was happening. Then I checked on the victim. As is instructed for anyone that appears to be going through convulsions, I had a member help me to roll her onto her left side, and we had propped a folded up towel underneath her face.
Luckily for me, one of the trainers on the floor that day was also a paramedic in training. He arrived in the studio within 2 minutes after I sent the second member to the front desk. Can you say "RELIEF"? I lucked out, and was so fortunate to have this superiorly trained person come in and not only assist, but take over and use his extra set of skills that even I did not have in this situation. He monitored this woman, and I was able to stand back and just be ready to be of any assistance necessary. However, I was very prepared.
Paramedics arrived about 10 minutes later, loaded her up on a stretcher, and took her away. It was only then that I got to relax and breathe a long sigh of relief.
She showed up in my step class again two weeks later, and didn't want to even talk about it. I respected that, but still asked if she was well enough to take the class. She said that her doctor had cleared her to resume her normal activities, but the entire hour saw me watching her and looking for the least little sign of trouble.
I can tell you guys sincerely that I hope to never go through such an experience ever again, but at the same time, I was happy to be the clearest head in the situation, and also able to implement the few skills that I had.
So... would you know what to do in such a situation? Have you ever been in a situation where someone nearby you was in physical distress? What did you do?
Would you even know what to do? Could you be the person who could help save a life?
How about if a person next to you was choking or having a heart attack? What would be your first step?
How would you react?
If you've never even thought about it or considered it. please do. You don't have to be a medical or fitness professional to get CPR and AED certified.
Here are some links that will help you to do exactly that:
The Red Cross
Adult CPR and AED
How to help a stroke victim
How to help someone that is choking
Helping a Seizure Victim
My recent CPR/AED certification is about to expire in a month, and I'm already signed up to take the next renewal course.
You should sign up and take the course too. Know that you really can make a difference, and get to it!
Someone you don't even know might end up depending on you! Let's help keep 'em alive! :)