Once in a while you hear about a great story of someone’s life who was undoubtedly spared by the preparedness of another. Just last weekend, a local professor was out for a jog when he experienced a heart attack. A person observed his collapse and immediately ran to his aid. Apparently recognizing the signs of his distress, the good Samaritan started to perform cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until professional medical help arrived. The good-doer’s exemplary deed undoubtedly helped keep blood circulating enough to his heart muscle to delay any damage and, with the quick efforts of the medical personnel, the professor is apparently recovering remarkably well.
I teach first aid and CPR and I often tell people that knowing these basic skills are so important to know and are potentially life-saving. However, when you hear of it happening so close and with someone known to you, it really makes these words even more true. Both first aid and CPR are relatively simple skills to learn, take only a few hours and can cost next to nothing.
Some might think that the professor knowing CPR didn’t help him. In this case, that seems to be true, but CPR training is also about recognizing the signs of heart attack and stroke for yourself and others.
It is very common that warning signs of a heart attack commence hours if not weeks before the life-threatening event. Rather than the dramatic clutching of the chest-type pain we all think heart attacks hit you, it is often more like extremely uncomfortable indigestion. Occasionally the pain or fullness feeling will occur in the chest, but it could also pain or discomfort in the back, arms, jaw, neck or stomach. Fatigue is also common, as is nausea, shortness of breath and breaking out in a cold sweat, which all seem to occur more in women.
Whereas heart attacks are about the heart muscle not receiving enough oxygen, strokes are the result of an artery to the brain being clogged and brain cells dying. Signs of a stroke are tested by remembering this simple test: FAST. Face – when they smile, does one sign droop? Arms – when raised, does one side go lower than the other? Speech – is it slurred or strange? If yes, to any of these, Time to call 911 right away!
Most people deny that these symptoms could be serious and often delay seeking treatment until the effects are life-threatening, but being prepared, learning some basic skills can change that.
It was really lucky that some knew what to do for our professor when he needed it most. But, simply relying on someone else to know how to save you, just isn’t enough. When we encourage this type of basic training for all citizens, we all win. So, no matter where we are, we can help or rely on someone else to save the day. And we don’t need to be Blossom, Bubbles or Buttercup to do it.