At my new job, I’m going through training.
It includes CPR amongst several other relevant categories for my position. In several different scenarios where someone may lose breath or consciousness, or become wounded.
But this training really struck me. I’ve done it several times, as a pre-school teacher and a social work staff. Years ago.
But this time, we really got into details.
We had to assemble our own practice mannequins, for one. I felt more competent, being so involved in the process.
I learned that the current standard for adults is 30 chest compressions, followed by two breaths–twice. So, sixty.
That you have to press down a full two inches, hard enough to make an impact. That you may crack a rib or hear otherwise unpleasant sounds– and that you just keep going until someone else arrives to relieve you, the person responds, the AED arrives, or EMT’s.
It’s a huge responsibility.
But I was proud to be taking it on.
This time I had to put together a mannequin head with a cardboard frame which connected to a plastic tube, and a soft plastic bag threaded through the tube to mimic lungs. I put a t-shirt over the frame to make it look more real.
I could feel the bag collapse and inflate. When I tipped the mannequin head back and blew air inside, I could see the “chest” rise. I could tilt back the chin.
I was intimidated to begin, but gained confidence as we continued the practice.
As I knelt next to my mannequin prop, and positioned my hands atop it, I felt the pressure on the bottom hand. Doing this correctly actually hurt me a little bit. I took off my mother’s ring (which I never do.) My watch and bracelet.
I noticed that just sitting on my knees and leaning over in order to do this, I was a little uncomfortable. It was a little harder to expel my own breath in that position, and I really had to exhale with gusto.
I used to be a casual smoker, and have since quit. I never bought my own pack– I’d just bum one occasionally. Now my lungs are fine. I realized that if I was a current smoker, I would not be able to do the breathing part correctly. I would be winded myself.
It hit me then how imperative it is to be healthy not just for own health, but to serve others as well.
But my amateur lungs worked hard enough that that “chest” still rose with each breath.
I have the power to save a life. Wow.
We all counted aloud, quickly. We joked that it’s to the rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive!”
As for me, I just stuck with counting.
Then we each did our testing individually with the instructors. We all passed.
I was proud that I didn’t need any prompting to remember.
I was able to ensure the safety of the scene, ask for help, assign someone to call 9-1-1 and grab an AED, and complete my 60 compressions and two breaths quickly, on the first try.
I’m proud to have a job that entails this knowledge and trains me for it.
I’ve never had to use my training. But if needed, I now am aware how to respond:
“I know CPR. Can I help you?”