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Until Help Arrives…

November 5, 2011

What is the difference between you, an EMT, a fireman and a sheriff’s deputy?  The difference is that you will be there when problems arise, and the professionals are many minutes away.  This matters because depending on where you live, about one in 500 of us will have a heart attack this year, one in 20 will go to the emergency room and one in 50 will call law enforcement.  These days, the public safety professionals have to do more with less so response times are growing.  What will you do until help arrives?  Emergencies are not always obvious at first.  Here is how they might play out.

20 million people know CPR and I hope you’re one of them.  Part of CPR training is to think through what you would do in an emergency.

Let’s say you and your family are at a restaurant.  You’ve just washed your hands when you notice a lady coughing and moving toward the bathroom.  You stop, but she can’t speak and waves you away.  Do you follow her or leave her alone and respect her privacy?  She turns, falls to her knees and then to the floor.

You could call 911 and leave the situation to the professionals.  Besides, your dinner will be out of the kitchen in a few minutes and your food could get cold if you get involved.

I hope you call 911.. and then check the person’s breathing and heart beat.  Maybe you perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR if necessary.  Your two hands can save a life, and the life you save could belong to a stranger.. or a close friend.  The choice is up to you.

Most homes, and all commercial buildings, have a fire extinguisher.  Yes, you can get training to use a fire extinguisher, and I hope you have.  Let’s say your neighbor’s kids were working on a car in their garage.  A few minutes later, you smell smoke.

You could wait.  The smoke could be from someone’s barbeque, and it isn’t your car, your garage or your children. You have a phone and could call 911 and let the professionals handle it, besides, the television commercial is almost over and the game is on.

You step out of your house, see smoke and call 911.  You knock on the door and make sure all your neighbors are out of their house.  Go grab a fire extinguisher, preferably the one closest to the source of the smoke.  The garage is open and you see that the kids’ car is parked on top of an overheating extension cord.  You unplug the cord and sweep the base of the fire with the fire extinguisher.

Thank you for getting involved and being a good neighbor.  Your immediate actions could stop a fire before it spreads to engulf the entire house.  You compliment the firefighting professionals, but you can’t replace them.  Neither can they replace you.  Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher could save your neighbor’s house..or your own.

Almost half of the households in America have guns.  Even if your household is the exception that does not have firearms, I hope you’ve taken the time and effort to get training because guns are in our neighborhood.

This time your daughter is at home with one of her girl friends.  They are jarred from their movie by a an angry drunken ex-boy friend yelling and banging on the front door.

They could call 911 and let the professionals handle it, besides, the movie was just getting exciting.

Instead, they retreat.  The girls lock themselves behind a bedroom door, grab the family gun and call the police.  Your daughter tells the dispatcher that she’s armed, but unless the intruder breaks through two doors, she is not going to confront him.  The gun is simply there if needed.  Fortunately the ex-boyfriend does not break a window to enter the house.  He does not kick-in an interior door.  Because it’s a quiet night, it only takes the police 10 minutes to arrive.

Professionals aren’t there the instant we need them, but we can give them the time they need to respond.  Our job is to respond immediately and stabilize the situation until help can arrive.  Common citizens are the solution to a safe home, workplace and neighborhood because we are the first responders.  That seems commonsense to me, but some people disagree.  Some politicians want to outlaw fire extinguishers and private firearms, but these politicians won’t be there when things go wrong.  The statistics we started with say that sometime you will be involved, and it seems foolish to outlaw the training and tools we need to buy time.  True, some people will not get involved, and I don’t think it is a matter of courage.  I think it is sadly predictable that you will turn away if you don’t have the tools and training to help.

If you have not already prepared yourself, then I hope you will schedule training this week, be it CPR, fire safety, first aid or self-defense training.  If you had training in the past, when was your last refresher course?  Maybe you can get your family and neighbors to join you!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2011 8:35 pm

    This post reminds me of a conversation I had with a group of village elders once in Afghanistan. It was a decent size village (approx. 1200 people). As it happens, there was no school in the village, or anywhere nearby. During our meeting, which was on another matter, I asked if there was a school in the village. The elders told me that there wasn’t, that they were waiting for the capitol (Kabul) to send teachers so they could start a school. I asked how long they had been waiting. They told me they had been waiting a number of years. I asked how many people in the village could read, they said maybe 40 or so. I asked how many could write. They said maybe 10 or so. I asked them if it might not be good for the village if they took one of those who could read and write and have their own temporary classes while they waited for Kabul to find the teachers. They said they would rather keep waiting for the teachers. Responsibility is a powerful thing. Thank you for empowering your readers to take some on behalf of their loved ones, and for the sake of all the rest of us. Cheers!

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