Procrastination (But I Digress)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Aid

Last weekend I took a Health Class for Teachers to retain my credential to teach my Intro to Law class. On Sunday, the same instructor gave a CPR class, also required. Over the years, as a girl scout leader, I have taken many CPR and first aid classes. I consider myself well prepared for a crisis (except of course I have no idea where my flashlight is anymore, but I digress). The first thing that the instructor asked was for us to decide now, whether we would help in an emergency. It's not always easy, she said.

As she asked the question, I was reminded about a time that I was confronted with an emergency that I did not act as I assumed that I would act. Big head me, always thought no crisis was too awful for me--I'm a take charge kind of person. But a kid on a bike went over a cliff down the side of a pretty steep hill. There was a trail of sorts to get down to the ledge he landed on, but it was very steep and he wasn't moving at all. My brain stopped working. Part of me knew that I was a first aider, trained in CPR and that I should go down there, assess the situation and try to help. But my feet would not move. I was not so much paniced, as frozen. I think my mind was trying to turn it off. Too much to process, shut down, tune it out. Luckily (and I am forever grateful to the nth degree) another adult who had taken first aid training with me, immediately started down the path and within seconds, I was needed to keep our girl scouts away from the scene, get the word to the person with the phone to call 911 and make sure that there was a clear path for emergency vehicles. But I remember those several seconds like they were hours. It is a scary awful thing not to be able to act the way you want to act.

As the instructor droned on, I realized that she was talking about no one wants to give mouth to mouth to a dirty homeless person. That wasn't even on my radar. Nothing like taking all the glamour out of trying to do a good deed.

Part of the CPR class was for infants. Since we have two infants in the house, that part was particularly interesting to me. When she handed out the "babies", I noticed that the guys were cavalier with the dolls and swung them around. When I say guys, we're talking men in their 30's and 40's--ok, maybe a few in their mid-twenties. But the women--almost all of them--were very gentle with their dolls. Two women even held the dolls like babies--almost comforting them, before the lesson started. Anecdotal, sure, but pretty amazing evidence of some very hard wires we humans have.

Two extremes--hard wires and stuff you can't even force yourself to learn. And we wonder how dinosaurs went extinct.

As an aside, the people of the state of California want cuts and my class will be a pretty easy target. I probably won't even need the credential, but if I don't freeze, I now know how to give cpr to an infant. Things have changed over the years, since I last took CPR. They never once mentioned sweeping the mouth for foreign objects--apparently it is out of vogue. I'll bet you didn't know that there were styles that went in and out of vogue in the first aid field. Someone probably got sued for biting someone else--it's always the lawyer's fault.