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Monday, December 8, 2008

Would You Know How to Help Save a Life?


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!

AED CPR device

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.

emt giving cpr

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! :)

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Daisy said...

Daisy's mom here:
I have seen someone have an epileptic seizure on a commuter train, and it was very scary. I am glad you knew what to do, and also that the woman eventually did come back to your class.

The World As I See It said...

Hello Diva,
Great Information! And you're right, you never know when you'll need to use it. I know, because I've had to perform CPR twice.

I used to manage fitness clubs, and on one occasion, a guy passed out while playing an early morning game of racquetball. I had to perform CPR on him until the paramedics arrived, and I'm happy to say that everything worked out well.

On another occasion, A man passed out in the locker room after jogging on our indoor track. Again, I performed CPR until medical personnel arrived, but I'm sad to say that he passed away on his way to the hospital from a brain aneurysm. There wasn't much more we could have done.

Terry Marsh

Dwayne said...

I have volunteered for years as a firefighter and EMT, I have seen it all. Most people do not realize it but if a family member goes into cardiac arrest there is only a four minute window of opportunity that you have to start CPR. Figure in the time that it takes to call 911 and your 4 minutes are gone. It really is something that everyone should take at least once in their life.

Helping people in distress comes naturally for me. If I see something happen or someone hurt, I am the first to jump in and treat them. I have seen help needed everywhere from church to the school yard.

I have helped many people, but it is the ones that I was not able to help that I remember the most. I always get angry if I cannot control the situation.

This is a good post here, everyone needs to take your advice. It could very well be a loved one that they actually are able to help

Jacqueline said...

Wow! Hope nothing like that ever happens to me but if it does, I sure hope someone is around like you, who can remain cool and take control of the situation.

The Fitness Diva said...

It's really crazy when something like that happens, isn't it, Daisy's Mom?
And I'm sure that you saw people all react differently too, just like when it happened in my aerobics studio.
I do hope to never see that happen ever again!

Wow, Terry... It must have really been a bit of a traumatic moment, especially when you found out that the second guy died. But, at least you know you did your best to help him.
We had someone die in one of our gyms about a year or so ago, and those things are just unbelievable when they do happen. You just have to remain ready and prepared, and hope for the best!

The Fitness Diva said...

Dwayne, I have a friend that is a New York City firefighter, and boy, has he told me some stories!
I also have a cousin that's an EMT supervisor in the Bronx. HE tells me some of these same horrific stories, and just like you, they said they've seen it all!
It really takes a unique type of person to be able to do that type of job where it's always about saving someone's life. Years ago I had considered becoming an EMT, but other things came along, and I took another path. Hell, I had also considered becoming a New York City cop, but I'm really glad I didn't go that route! Fitness is A LOT more fun! :D

But, anyway, I like knowing that I can at least be of some help in a life or death situation.

Yeah, the ones you couldn't save probably always bother you a bit.
I'm sure you replay the scene over and over again in your mind, but you know that you did your best for that person. It was just their time.

Urban Thought said...

My last two jobs required us to get training. My current part-time job mandates that we pass the class and get re-certified.

The bigger question for me and others that I work with: Would we actually perform the duties if the time came?

Shinade said...

Hi Diva,
I was trained and certified last year. Luckily I have never had to use it and my certification is past due I am sure.

I am glad I know how and what to do. but, I certainly hope I never have to use it!

Great information here.

gLoR!e said...

I remembered i had one subject practicing saving the life of the person and i failed because i don't exactly know the proper way..:(

The Fitness Diva said...

Good question, Urban, given the fact that we all react differently in these situations. It's not every person that has the nerve (or sometimes the desire) to step up and get involved. You also have to be really sure of yourself, because this is a life you're dealing with.
I know some folks who are certified, but would want to be the last person to ever have to use it!

Shinade, that's great, and yes, hopefully you will never have to put it to the test!
Seeing anyone go into some type of physical distress anywhere near you is always a bit traumatic!

Aw, Glorie.... you can always try again! :)

ImitationAngel said...

I was certified about 10 years ago. It was required as part of taking special health classes. I let it expire a year later and wanted to take the test again but never got around to doing it.


I would probably panic-I hate to say it but don't know what to do. This makes me realize that I need to get my butt in gear and take a CPR class!

PaulsHealthblog.com said...

Diva, that was awesome. Aren't you glad you were prepared?

I was a lifeguard for five years, and had all kind of training. I even had to jump in the pool and save a few kids, but I managed to pull them out, choking and hacking, before it got much worse.

But it does feel good when you know exactly what to do in that sort of situation, rather than go into panic mode.

Merry Christmas!

EastCoastLife said...

I will do just that! Get trained and certified in CPR. I would never know when it's needed.

It's scary to realise that many around me don't know how to save a life.

shaxx said...

What an experience. You managed to handle the situation really well... I might have not been able to do that....

I was trained on CPR a long time ago and now I think I have to get myself re-certified... Cheers!

attygnorris said...

Thanks for the CPR review. I was licensed for many years a loooong time ago (I worked with people who had special needs), so I couldn't say I remembered everything. Hopefully, I won't have to use it. But, if I do, I hope I'll know what to do to save a life.


Laura said...

Great post, and blog overall. I have had some cpr training but dont think I would be confident enough to do it.

joytoy said...

CPR is really important but I dont think I still know it now. We had a subject for this during my Fire training. LOL! Anyway, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, its really hard to find real friends. But, I'm lucky to have a nice friend. I hope she will not change forever. :)

GAGAY said...

dropping ECard here..hope to see u at mine,, take care!

VitaMan said...

I too am both CPR and AED certified. Never had to use either of 'em though, and I'm pretty sure I'm about due for another class.
Fortunately, I've never had to use 'em.

But..I'll be taking EMT-B courses soon. Trying to get a job as a firefighter! It's a tough market =(

Natural said...

i've been certified cpr/aed/first aid training for 2 years and i hope i never have to use those skills.

it's good to know them because you never know when you might need them and for who. a few seconds of treatment can save a life.

Tamika said...

You've posted so much info since the last time I visited! Anyway, I'm planning on taking child CPR in January. I'm around kids all the time and with my own little one, it's important. My husband at least has his CPR certification, but we're not together all the time. If someone around me needed help, I would not know what to do, besides call 911. I couldn't help them in anyway and sometimes those seconds and minutes count, so it's good to know how to help because it could mean life or death for someone. Great information!

schizoshrink said...

hope the hospital m workin in could have one of those AEDs.. we usually perform the manual cpr..

DebbieDana said...

I've learned alot from here. It is really an advantage if you know CPR. I admit I don't know it but it's not yet late for me to learn.

Happy Friday!

Michael Thomas said...

I just renewed my CPR and First Aid. Great Article you just never know. MR. USA Michael Thomas

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Barbecue Fish said...

I have not seen anyone in distress that would call for CPR, but If there was, I am not sure I would be able to perform that. I would probably ask for someone else to help, or get some other assistance.

poker books said...

We should really be knowledgeable to first aide we never know when you will be needing it.

iWalk said...

It's really useful.

I had attended a class about How to help save a life at WenChuan earthquake disaster area,But it's too late to learn it after the disaster.

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