In preparation for my personal training certification, I had to sign up for a hands-on CPR/AED (cardiopulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillator) class. If you’re going to be working people out to the point where you’re, essentially, toying with their heart rates, the least you should be able to do is bring them back down when you bring them up.
I kid – inappropriately, even – but I’m serious. If I’m training you, and something raises your heart rate higher than we’ve anticipated, it only helps the both of us if I’m better equipped to save your life. Having a hands-on class that gives me the tools to do just that feels pretty valuable. Invaluable, really.
That being said, here are five major reasons to take advantage, and get CPR-certified:
1) You need to know that CPR doesn’t look like, or happen like, anything you’ve ever seen on TV. I feel like I can remember being grossed out by seeing CPR performance on TV shows, because it was always some “hot blond” giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to some dorky boy, who always came-to and used that as an opportunity to try to tongue-down the girl. Seeing as how CPR is used to help someone who is unconscious, it’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to wake up with making-out being the first thing on their minds. Also: no one’s down there breathing into someone else’s mouth for that long. Nobody. It just… you need to know it doesn’t look like what you saw on Baywatch.
2) There are actual legal guidelines to helping someone who is in need, and it helps to know them. Did you know that you must always ask someone whether or not you can help them before you aim to help them? Did you know that they can, in fact, say “no” and, if they do, the most you can do for them is call 911? What happens if they say “yes,” and are somehow harmed in the process of being helped? What happens if you, as someone trained in CPR, allow someone to be harmed in your presence without offering assistance?
These are all issues that are discussed in your hands-on CPR class and, as we are in quite litigious times, affect a person’s general willingness to “get involved.” (We’d be dishonest to deny it.) Knowing the laws for your country, state and city make a difference.
3) CPR/AED training helps…demystify the AED. AEDs are intimidating machines. They’re loud, they yell at you, and they’ll zap you with the quickness, but being familiar with them is enough to buy someone just enough time before an emergency medical technician (otherwise known as an EMT) can arrive to take over. You never know when you need to use CPR, you never know when you need to use it in conjunction with an AED, and you’ll never know whether or not you have an AED on hand. That hands-on approach helps you feel comfortable understanding when and where you should ask for what, and how to use it until more experienced hands arrive.
4) My class was a first aid/CPR/AED combination class, and when I tell you that this class reminded me of my own mortality… believe it. I heard stories of collapsed buildings (which, when you’re often near Ground Zero, you’re reminded of this a lot), heat strokes, heart attacks, innocent choking, shock, cardiac arrest… not only did it make me thankful for my own health and appreciative of everything I do to keep myself in good condition, it made me realize that all of that could help me both a) potentially save myself from an unexpected situation but b) potentially save someone else, too. That’s an incredibly empowering feeling. It’s something to be proud of.
5) If you get a cool class like mine, you wind up hearing people’s stories of what brought them to the class, or how someone they love has been saved because someone they knew was saved using CPR. Everything from “I’m here because my school required it, as a teacher” to “I’m going on a mission trip with my church and I wanted to be on the safe side” to “I’m having my first granddaughter, and I wanted to be ready this time” came up… and I was just a little bit taken aback by all that. Something felt too much like deja vu to me.
It reminded me that, when Kyli was an infant, I had to rush her downstairs to my mother because she was making this squeaking sound, sounding like she couldn’t breathe. My mother looked inside her mouth, turned her over and, while holding her in her hand, patted her on the back and dislodged whatever she’d swallowed out of her throat.The entire terrifying process lasted less than 60 seconds.
My mother is a former lifeguard.
My CPR class made me feel like I, too, could save a life. If someone that close to me could save someone that close to me and both are right in front of me, then surely I can do it, too.
All in all, I was happy to be able to support the American Red Cross, get my little fancy-pants certificate in the end, and walk out ready to rush over to a pile of rubble, lift a beam off of someone and save their lives.
Clearly, I forgot what I said up there in #1.
Are you trained? Have you saved someone before? Let’s hear it!