Last Friday morning I was teaching in my studio as usual, like many mornings full of clients, street noise & the postman knocking nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
And then I heard screaming, the ear piercing, stop you in your tracks screaming. So ensuring my client was safe I went out to see what was going on, I bumped into a woman walking her dog and noticed my neighbours door opposite open. We cross over and then I see my neighbour collapsed with a very frightened young woman administering CPR.
I have been a first aider on multiple occasions, I’ve held the hands of motor cyclists who were unlikely to live but I have never had to do CPR. My own father died of a heart attack at 45, two people tried to revive him but his arteries were beyond saving and here I was stood in a doorway with a 50-year-old father of two unresponsive, a frightened woman doing first aid and his young daughter not much older than I was with nothing but fear looking back at me.
If like me, you have found yourself in these situations you will know time often does something strange, it often slows down. In everyday life I frequently can’t find my phone or my glasses (often on my head) but in these moments I gain a crystal-clear clarity. The young woman doing CPR had panicked understandably & had failed to see my neighbour was breathing but now choking, I had to persuade her to stop and let me move him into the recovery position to clear his airways, her fear & shock were preventing her seeing what was in front of her, she paused just long enough to let me shift him onto his side. Paramedics were called and arrived amazingly quickly; I cannot praise them enough but what struck me was the number of people & neighbours that showed up only to stand around dazed. I suspect they too were in shock but in not knowing what to do they were unwittingly obstructing the very people who could help.
The young Brazilian cleaner as it turned out had done the most important thing, she had opened the door and screamed for help, this single decision may have saved my neighbours life.
And so, if you are reading this thinking about how you would have reacted the truth is you don’t know until you are in it, I’ve always been someone who runs towards not away from but if you are not naturally like that, I encourage you to take a course, look online. Its not about being confident or knowing exactly what to do but its about knowing what the first thing to do is. Sometimes its noticing symptoms, calling a doctor, 999 or sometimes it is getting someone onto their side.
I’ve never regretted trying to help in any of the situations I’ve found myself in, knowing that two strangers tried to save my dads life brought me tremendous peace over the years. I do, however, know I would deeply regret walking away or thinking there was something I could have at last tried.
As with all of these skills you hope never to have to use them, but you never know what life is going to bring to the party, and as it turns out that even an exiled Brownie can learn to ‘Be prepared’ for any crisis…now where did I leave my phone?…