Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keeping Score

 The Instructor stood in front of his class at the conclusion of the first successful CPR training for each of these new students. As he got them quieted down he surveyed these new faces going out into the world as newly ordained 'lay rescuers'. Most were between 20 and 30 years old, but some were forty and one was in her sixties. All were civilians.
 "Newbies", he thought, but then he chastised himself for thinking that. "These are just folks trying to be prepared to help somebody else out when they need it most". His thoughts were his own and he congratulated himself on getting a new batch of people out there. This is why he teaches, after all, to possibly save a life through the actions of others.
 "OK Folks" he spoke up "lets quiet down. Before I let you help me carry all this 'stuff' out to my truck I want to congratulate you on doing a fine job. Everybody passed and did it well. You are all in good shape. Just remember if you are ever faced with any of the situations we discussed today, just stay calm and follow your training. I KNOW you are going to do great. Are there any final questions?"
 A hand shot up from the cute 20 something with the long brown hair. "You told us that you have done CPR many times, how many people have you saved?" "Well," he looked at the floor then looked back up, "I've been...er, check that, I have had a few patients that have been lucky and come through it OK as far as I know."
 "Hey, wait a minute", it was the smart ass kid in the corner that was cracking jokes all through the class. The Instructor had just about had enough of this kid. "Your job is saving lives, are you telling us that you don't KNOW how many people you've saved? You don't keep track of something like that? You're weird dude!"
 "Yeah" the Instructor said, "I guess I am a little weird. The truth is, I have no idea how many saves I've had a hand in. First of all we don't get good feedback after we bring them to the hospital , and many times I have no idea how it ended for a lot of patients. You probably won't understand this, but we do the best we can for every patient and hope for the best. I only keep track of the others."
 The kid in the corner didn't get it yet, "what others?"
 "Ah Shit" he thought, "I said that out loud didn't I?"
 The instructor looked the kid in the eye, waited for a second, then said in a firm voice "The others that didn't make it, I know that number, it's 37. He went on, "I didn't want to tell you that because you might get discouraged, but every person that is trained and 'out there' will increase the chances that CPR will be started sooner and increase that patients chances. You can make a difference. That's the point. Don't focus on what might go wrong, work toward what might go right." He looked around the class and studied the faces.
 "Damn" he thought "I went and scared them. Time for damage control."
 "Look, I know this all sounds pretty heavy, and in a way it is, but you have to realize that all you can do is what you can do. If you TRY to help, and do the right thing, then you are not responsible for what happens if it doesn't go the way you want. You did more than many people could or even would have done. You should be proud of that. It takes a damned lot of courage to walk in this room like you did 6 hours ago, and take this class, then walk out prepared to do something that will seem a little unnatural at first. My work doesn't allow me to 'pick' who I want to try to save and who I don't. When I get the call I go, and do everything I can within my training and leave the decisions to a higher power. After a while, you learn that you can't think about it too much because the outcome is not really in your hands anyway. Your 'job' is to do 10 minutes of good quality CPR and I know you can do that."
 He did another 'face survey' and could see the wheels turning in almost every head. "If anyone wants to hang out a little after we clean up, I'll be happy to stay and finish that pot of coffee with you. Just understand this, you are not expected to be 'heroes', but you might be looked at that way if you ever need to do this because you might be the only one who knows what to do. Doing the right thing is not always easy, but it is why you are here, and why I am here. I thank you for showing me the courage you have, and I wish you all the best of luck. Anyone want to help me load the truck?"
 The smart ass kid in the corner jumped up and grabbed two big bags of CPR dummies.

Be Safe,

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