Friday, March 12, 2010

Are You Ready to Be a Hero?

The Southwest Washington Chapter of the American Red Cross held its 2010 Heroes Breakfast this morning which honored 7 different stories of people and pets who saved other people's lives.

Since their website does an excellent job sharing those seven stories, the questions I asked myself as a listener was "what do each of these stories have in common?"  In the intersection of these 7 stories, I believe we'll find a clear definition of what it takes to be ready to save lives. 

One of today's speakers used a phrase that resonated on why these people are heroes.  They were the "right people, with the right skills, at the right time."   

Right People
These 7 stories involved a group of fire fighters, a grandfather, 2 employees at a gym, a puppy dog (with an owner who listened), a 14-year old kid, a hiker, and two people who came upon a horrific motorcycle accident.  It is clear that there is no singular "profile" for someone who may be a potential life saver which means that any one of us could be a hero.     

Right Skills
Within these stories, a few common threads did emerge about skills.  These heroes had all had first aid and/or CPR training which came in particularly useful in their situations.  One set of heroes illustrated the use of an Automatic External Defibrillatorone Hero used the Heimlich maneuver and a third Hero used pressure techniques to save the life of a motocyclist who had been in a severe accident.  It was striking to see the vivid impact of training in these experiences.    

And beyond the right skills, my favorite story involved a 14-year old wrestler who save a combative man from jumping off a bridge to commit suicide.  He was prepared enough to access some rope which he used to tie the man to the bridge until other public safety responders could arrive.  You can never predict how elements of your vehicle emergency kit might be used in times of crisis!

Right Timing 
While timing in emergency situations is not anything that people pre-plan, it is important to note that each of these folks saw the need and took it seriously.  From the lady who listened to her dog barking weirdly and was saved from a fire to the hiker who jumped in a boat to save a 4-year old who had fallen off a bridge and moved down swift waters into a lake, each of them sprang into action rather than delaying or deferring responsibility to someone else.   

Here's a short quiz to see how prepared you are to be a hero:
  • Have you taken a First Aid/CPR class?
  • Do you know how to do CPR?
  • Are you familiar with how to help someone who is choking?
  • Do you know how to stop bleeding?
  • Do you know how to operate an AED?
  • Do you know where the AED is located in your office, if you have one?
  • Is your car packed with emergency kit items that could be useful in these situations in case you need to stop bleeding or tie someone to a bridge?
If you can answer yes to most or all of these questions, then YOU just may find yourself with the ability to answer the call affirmatively to save someone else's life. 

If you've answered "no" to some of these questions, don't worry.  There are a couple of easy ways to get up to speed quickly.  The American Red Cross offers community classes, workplace training, youth classes and even on-line training for first aid & CPR

And, as for stocking up your emergency kits, I rather enjoyed the question asked by the Title Sponsor of the Heroes Breakfast this morning, when he said "What's on your list today?" 

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