If you were with a group of people and someone started choking, what would you do? Are you certified in the Heimlich maneuver? Do you know CPR? Do you think someone else can handle the situation?
When I was a little kid my father used to play a game with my brothers and me at dinner. It was called “Panic!” Dad would create an emergency-type scenario such as the house was on fire and we were trapped inside, someone broke into the house while we were home, or we severely hurt ourselves (to name a few) and then he’d say “Panic!” The rule was that we really could not panic and each of us had to come up with a unique solution to the situation quickly and with a level head. We had fun coming up with creative and practical resolutions to emergencies never really realizing the impact it would have on us as adults.
As an adult, I am the one who responds calmly and intelligently under pressure. Thanks in part to my experience with the Panic Game, people turn to me when emergencies arise. Only today was a bit different.
Today I joined our walking group for our usual exercise and subsequent breakfast. While at breakfast, one of the members of our group who is over 80 years old began choking on his breakfast. No one did anything but lean over him and keep asking if he was okay. Immediately I realized the situation was grave so I jumped up and announced to the restaurant, “A man is choking, does anyone here know the Heimlich maneuver?” People just stared at me. I repeated, “This is a serious situation, a man is choking and we need help.” A waitress offered to call 911 and I instructed her to do so. In the meantime, the owner of the restaurant came from the back and was able to administer the Heimlich, which was successful on the third attempt. My friend is fine, a little shaken up, but all ended well – thankfully.
This situation made me realize that I want to get certified in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. Years ago I had a CPR certification and let it expire. Because I never had a situation to use CPR, I didn’t go through the efforts to keep the certification current. But I am wrong! It is vital to keep emergency response certifications up-to-date. As lay people, we can play a critical role in helping to save lives while waiting for professionally trained emergency responders. Today I could have helped had I been properly trained in what to do. This was an important wake-up call for me and that’s why I am sharing it with you.
Consequently I urge you to contact your local hospital or police/fire station and inquire about their training programs for CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. Someday you might end up saving someone’s life.