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When I was 12 years old, I took a first aid/CPR class to fulfill requirements for a Boy Scout merit badge. After that, first aid/CPR training was an every-couple-of-years occurrence – through high school, in pursuit of my Eagle Scout rank, into college and through my first couple of post-college jobs.
Today I am the president of a safety consulting firm, following in the footstep of my father, and one of the purposes of my job is to provide NSC First Aid/CPR courses for companies and individuals in need of the training.
I have told students many times that the training they were receiving could someday help a coworker or family member in need. Part of my teaching method is sharing my experiences of helping others with the skills that I have. My training has helped me handle situations from a splinter in the finger to identifying a stroke.
Last June, my parents came over to my house to visit. I greeted them in the driveway and we began to walk in to the garage. My dad was right in front of me when he caught his shoe on an edge of concrete. He immediately tumbled forward, striking his head on the concrete floor. It happened so fast that I couldn't react fast enough to even try to catch him. His head hit the floor and made a very bad popping sound, and he then rolled over on to his back.
I stared in disbelief of what had just happened. His eyes were closed and he had clearly received a "knockout punch." I immediately knelt by his side and held his head; then the bleeding started. I noticed two major gashes in his head, one over his eye and the other on top of his head. The gash on top of his head was bleeding profusely and I was afraid to apply direct pressure to the wound for fear of causing further injury.
As this was occurring, I yelled into the house for my son to come help me. When he came out he brought me a roll of paper towels, but when he saw the blood he started to really freak out. I told him to come over to me and got him to focus on helping me to help his grandfather. I then told him to get the phone and call 911.
I kept reviewing in my head as I assisted my dad: stabilize the patient… assess and call 911… control the bleeding… keep the patient from moving… immobilize the head and neck… and keep the patient calm.
Ten minutes after making the call to 911, the medics arrived. Those 10 minutes seemed like 10 days as I consoled my dad and kept my family calm. My dad was transported to our local hospital and diagnosed with a concussion and fractures to the C1 and C2 vertebrae. The doctor jokingly told my dad that his vertebrae were silver-lined and that he really is lucky to still be with us. My dad credits me with saving his life, and I credit him for teaching me to do so.
Since that day last June, I have played this whole thing over and over in my head. I guess I should mention that my dad is a safety professional who taught me early on how, in an emergency, having training and preparation on your side can make a critical difference.
It's a lesson that stayed with me, and it's a lesson that saved a life.