“Can you talk?”

It was May 2008. I had just returned from the Rotary District Conference being held in Campbell River, BC.

Barb and the girls had been visiting her parents for the weekend, and were on the road back. Not wanting to eat alone, I invited myself to my parent’s house for a little Sunday dinner.

In the middle of the meal, Mom suddenly stopped, stood up, and put her hands to her throat, signifying she’s choking.

After three decades of CPR/First Aid training (including two years as a volunteer first responder), I knew instinctively what to do.

While getting out of my chair quickly, I asked, “Mom, can you talk?”

I’ll never forget her look. She opened her mouth and nothing. Her eyes were screaming HELP!

I jumped behind her to perform what is commonly known as The Heimlich Maneuver to help a choking victim.

Dad sat silent and literally paralyzed in his chair, watching intently. In all my years of training, I knew what to do but you can’t actually practice the maneuver on a non-choking person. I was about to find out if I could put what I’d learned to use.

Mom was all of 4’10 and 90 pounds. I had 13 inches and 90 pounds on her. I was nervous to be overly forceful for fear I would break all her ribs.

Once. Nothing. Twice.  Nothing.

Before the third attempt I said to Dad, “Call 911!” He asked, “Really?”

I answered with a bit of panic and a much stronger effort, “YES!”

With that last upward thrust a small piece of broccoli came out. Mom was able to breathe again after a couple of coughs.

Seemingly oblivious to what almost happened, Mom and Dad went back to eating. I slumped into the chair, exhausted from the huge adrenaline rush. I wasn’t in the mood to eat and I suggested they take a short break from it, too!

This weekend, Barb and I did our re-certification through The Red Cross. If you’ve never been trained or are out of date, I encourage you to get it done.

The reality is that while it’s incredibly important for every business to have trained employees to be first responders, all of us are most likely to use it with family and friends.

In an ever growing virtual work environment, we are finding ourselves spending more face to face time with loved ones and friends.

Just like what happened to me, the opportunity to help someone in crisis may come down to you. In my case, I’d gone through so many trainings that the response was instinctive and immediate. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I not been trained.

Do yourself, your loved ones, your friends, and your coworkers a favor. Invest in CPR and First Aid training.

Be prepared to be a first responder. Be prepared to be a life saver for someone you love.

Quote of the Week:

“Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.”

~ Voltaire

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