I wanted to share some recent experiences and perhaps get some of you thinking. This past weekend, my husband Kent and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. At one point, during a delicious meal of “bangers and mash,” I swallowed a piece of sausage (banger) the wrong way. And by swallowed the wrong way, I mean actually that I didn’t swallow it but it became firmly lodged in my airway.
It’s amazing how fast and yet slow things moved for me in the next few seconds. I coughed and tried to drink water, and then, couldn’t cough. Training took over and I stood up and moved to the edge of the table so that my husband could position himself more easily to help me. And then when I couldn’t breathe, I used the universal sign for choking, with hands around my throat. And one-two-three, pop! Kent, a trained first-responder, performed three textbook perfect abdominal thrusts, cleared my airway, and I gathered myself together to notice a table across from us with several young men clapping and giving Kent the thumbs up. Apparently, they were all off-duty firefighters. I was fortunate to be in a safe area, with many well-trained people able to help.
Last week, during a visit with my parents, my father told me of one of his friends who experienced sudden cardiac arrest in an airport. A bystander (who was an RN), grabbed the automated external defibrillator (AED) off the wall of the airport and performed CPR with automatic defibrillation. My father’s friend lived and is doing well.
The summer before we moved to Washington, I went on a “girl’s weekend” with my best friend Maggie, her wife and their two girls. The youngest at that point was only 8 or 9 months old. While sitting in the living room, surrounded by adults, that little one somehow managed to get a small clear piece of plastic in her mouth. She turned the classic shades of red, and then blue in rapid succession. I cleared her airway in another “training over emotions” moment that seemed to take an eternity.
So my thoughts this month for you are these. Is this, perhaps, a skill you have to offer the world? Have you taken a CPR class in the past, but don’t really remember much anymore? Are you worried you’ll “do it wrong?” Have you ever helped someone with a medical emergency, or perhaps, like me this weekend, been on the receiving end of some skilled assistance? This knowledge can be a beautiful way to nurture our interdependent web of life. And if you aren’t able physically to perform CPR, can you advocate for others around you to consider receiving training?
Training in CPR includes techniques in clearing airway obstruction, and using an AED; this is priceless knowledge. Here locally there are so many resources for receiving training or refreshing your training. Currently, the Central Kitsap Fire department offers free community CPR classes on the 3rd Thursday of every month. https://www.ckfr.org/information/cpr-classes/
As our fellowship embraces goals around safety, I hope you will please let me know if you would like further information on training in CPR, first-aid, or have any questions.
Jennifer Ingalls, RN