You never know what your day will bring or what you may have to face … Imagine you wake up one morning … Everything seems normal … You begin your routine and then start your day. As the day goes on you find yourself being delayed by circumstances beyond your control. The weather is bad. Traffic is gridlock. You shake your head in frustration as you become late for meetings and appointments. What if this is just part of the plan in your path in the universe? One minute early or one minute late can have situations go in either a positive or negative way. When it is for the positive we perceive it to be – “Being in the right place at the right time.” Such was the case for me this past week …
The day started off perfectly. I had a nice breakfast and was anxious to do my regular training routine at the University Of Toronto – Mississauga. The weather was frigid and it was snowing. Road conditions were horrible. As the day progressed, it was obvious that several of my meetings and errands were going to be delayed.
As I entered a local shopping mall later that evening (about two hours later than planned) I was unaware of the circumstances that were about to unfold. I noticed a commotion going on with two individuals screaming and waving their hands frantically. As I approached, I noticed a third individual that was lying on the ground. What shocked me was the number of people walking by and doing nothing! What if that was your relative? Your friend? Your loved one? Was it simply ignorance or just the fear of not knowing what to do? Having spent most of my life involved with emergency services, it is incredible to experience the gamut of emotions that overcome you within a split second. Even as a trained professional, there is a brief moment of hesitation. Then, your training kicks in. Remember … Seconds count … I quickly initiated the emergency response by first identifying myself as a trained first responder. I asked the two individuals that were frantic, some quick questions about the person on the ground. I instructed an individual offering assistance to call 911 as well as security to inform them that there was an emergency occurring requiring immediate medical attention. I quickly did a patient assessment and determined that the 40 year old female was not breathing and had no detectable pulse. My greatest fears were being realized – the woman was experiencing ‘Cardiac Arrest’.
Cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. a heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is slowed or stopped because of a blockage. In the case of a heart attack, the heart continues to beat. Cardiac arrest may have a variety of causes including heart disease, drowning, stroke, electrocution, suffocation, drug overdose or injury.
Signs of cardiac arrest include:
– sudden collapse
– sudden unresponsiveness to touch or sound and
– abnormal or no breathing
I quickly initiated CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) which is an emergency procedure that can restore blood flow to someone suffering cardiac arrest, keeping the victim alive until advanced medical care arrives. It involves a series of properly timed and administered breaths and compressions. When the heart stops beating in cardiac arrest, it no longer pumps blood to the body. The brains and organs can be seriously damaged without oxygen and nutrients from blood and the person can die within minutes if not treated immediately. CPR can help maintain blood flow and ventilation in a victim of cardiac arrest for a short period.
After what seemed like an eternity, the paramedics finally arrived. It was refreshing to see that one of them recognized me from my gym training and firefighting profession. I felt proud. They took over after I gave them a quick synopsis. They were very appreciative. I walked away consoling the two family members feeling exhausted and slightly frazzled. No matter how many times that I have experienced these types of situations in my professional as well as personal life – you always leave feeling mentally drained. In my heart, I felt that I did the best that I could and that the patient would survive. Later that evening, I received a call from one of the paramedics indicating that the patient was indeed going to survive. Upon examination at the hospital it was determined that the woman had an underlying condition that she was not aware of … After a day involving delays and unforseen circumstances – the universe placed the young female and I in the same paths for a reason … For her, I was in “the right place at the right time”… I am thankful for that …
What Can You Do?
Most cardiac arrests occur in homes and public places, and many are witnessed by a family member, co-worker or friend. The survival rate of cardiac arrest is very low. Get CPR training if you don’t already have it. Contact your local HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION or ST. JOHN’S AMBULANCE for training courses and available times. You will never regret it. When I was instructing courses several years back I would tell all my students that: “CPR and FIRST AID courses are something that everyone should have – but I hope that you never have to use it.”
Never be afraid to get involved … If you ever run into a life threatening situation and you don’t know what to do – at least call 911 – help will be on the way. The emergency responders will be en route. If you see someone in distress – STOP! It could be a relative, a friend or a loved one – or one day it may even be you! … Never be afraid to get involved … ‘Believe In Yourself’ and what you can do … Remember, seconds count …