Sunday 7th January 2018. Like any other January morning, at 9.40 the sun had already tilted down a couple of inches. I was late for mass, so I just stood at the entrance as an animator sang psalms, with the congregation humming the response. Fellow late comers flocked the entrance into the house of worship, trying to steal an inch of shade from the hot sun.
As we chewed onto the psalm and ruined the rhythm, there was a startling movement from the back of the church, and those standing besides me craned their necks and in turn made way. They wore a face of concern, and I also stretched off the wall I was leaning on, to catch a glimpse of an elderly lady holding a younger lady by the shoulders. It irked me that people were giving way, instead of helping out, so when she passed the doorway, I felt the urge to help. I didn’t know what I was doing, or what was happening, but it was that tingly voice they call conscience that snapped at me “Damn it! Help out! Do something!” well, my conscience is not the kind type, it shouts orders.
I folded the day’s readings pamphlet and stuck it in the back pocket, then like the elderly lady, held the younger lady’s hand over my shoulders.
“Take it easy… eeeasy…” I said, like they do in the movies. She took me seriously, and let go of the little strength left. I had to hold onto the walls since the older lady was not fairing too well under the weight too.
My brain started moving fast, the only piece of first aid I had come across was placing a piece of paper on a child’s forehead to get rid of hiccups. (Do try, it works, but have a pacifier in case it backfires on you, ha-ha).
“What do we do now…” The elderly lady asked, in a shaky voice as we took the two-pair stairway leading to the parking lot. She was shaken to the bone, and I wished I knew what we would do.
“Let’s get her to some shade” I replied, which is what we all do when someone faints – look for a shade. The lady seemed to relax, maybe getting the impression that she was in the company of Ben Carson’s younger brother.
My pack of late comers escorted us with childish eyes, and I hated them.
“Here, place this below her…” The elderly lady said, as she undid her leso with one arm and handed it over to me.
We had picked a quiet spot behind an old dusty Jeep Cherokee, covered with “Wash me” graffiti. A huge avocado tree kept the menacing sun away, and I laid the leso on the grass with one arm. By now the lady we held had turned stiffer and heavier than before, and I was starting to freak off. From a distance, people peeped from the edge of the Church, most probably trying to get a headline for their imaginary audience.
We laid the lady on the leso, and I requested my co-doctor to loosen the belt and take off our subject’s shoes. She looked at me sternly for a second, a cue for me to look away, and I did just that. A thought crossed my mind, and I didn’t think twice, flung out my phone, and quickly typed in “First aid for fainting” and waited. Most of the results were disheartening, then I hit the jackpot! Mayo Clinic.
I skimmed through the webpage, and got to the part on administering the first aid.
“if someone else faints…
Position the person on his or her back. If there are no injuries and the person is breathing, raise the person’s legs above their heart level – about 12 inches (30 centimeters) – if possible. Loosen belts, collars or other constrictive clothing.”
I turned back in time as the lady finished undoing the loose clothing. She now stood there in a pool of cluelessness, waiting on me to do the necessary. One more phrase caught my eyes as I was turning: –
“Check for Breathing,” I read to myself shakily, “If the person isn’t breathing, begin CPR. Call 911 or your local emergency number. Continue CPR until help arrives or the person begins to breathe.”
‘She has to be breathing’, I told myself, ‘since calling 911 for them to come help an unconscious girl would be likened to asking for water from a rock and you are not Moses’. I also had no clue who or what CPR was, how it was done, or why it had to be given such strange and serious sounding initials. I later learned from a friend that CPR is Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, where you press down the other person’s chest till they can breathe on their own. folks knew about it as early as the 17th century, and here i was in the 21sth Century, with a nil hint of what it is.
I bent down to reach for the pulse, then remembered I was to check if the subject was still breathing not to check for life. There was no need checking for breathing, since her chest still heaved though faintly, but I still checked on the pulse, which was in a scale of 1-10 a weak 4. (see, I can get my doctorate already). The young lady lay still, on her back with her legs slightly raised on some higher ground, eyes tightly shut. The cool breeze brushed some strands of her hair over the face, and the elder lady motherly bushed them away. Her shoes and belt lay a few inches away from her manicured toes, and seemed to follow on their owner’s progress.
“What happened…?” I asked, in a bid to help her relax.
“We were there, I was sited next to her, then she told me she was feeling dizzy and wanted to walk out, the next minute she was limp on my arms, and the only thing I knew to do was walk her out and hope for, well, someone like you…”
“You don’t know her?” I was puzzled.
“Nope, but she is familiar, I’ve seen her around. What do we do now?”
I had to be the calm one, though my nerves were now weaker than those of a cat on a freeway.
“Now, stand, look at her and pray.” I said, as a joke, which was ignored. She needed a serious answer, like ‘Okay, I will do a CPR, and she will come around in three to four minutes’.
“We make sure she has a fair flow of fresh air, and she will come along. She will be fine.” The old lady trusted my words more than I did, since her shoulders seemed to relax, and she managed a weak smile.
By now, the vicar chewed on with the sermon, and we could hear him from a distance constantly break into song to try keep the congregation online. A few ladies had gathered around, all holding their mouths at the sight, and looking at me with approving eyes. It’s like everyone believed I knew what I was doing except, well, you got it right – me.
A slow and tense fifteen minutes later, I saw the young lady open her eyes, one after the other, looking confused. She stayed that way for a short while, blinking slowly like a mermaid in a fantasy movie. She tried sitting up, but I quickly but softly held her shoulder back.
“Try and relax, it’s okay…” I said, and felt a surge of victory.
“What happened…?” She managed to ask.
“Well, let’s say you fainted in Church.” The older lady said calmly, looked at me and planted the most genuine smile I had seen in a while.
I had the urge to jokingly ask her if she had by any chance seen Moses or Peter, but thought it would dampen, but swore to ask her the next moment we meet.
I recently buried my head and dug into the maze of first aid, and came up with a number of fun facts, which should actually push us into getting some basic first aid training.
Did you know, a blocked airway can kill in approximately four minutes, depending on the severity? It takes over 10 minutes for help to arrive when called upon, and more than 20 minutes to get to the nearest health facility. A simple first aid procedure can help open up the airway, at least partially and buy enough time before help arrives!
Did you know, hundreds of thousands of people die annually due to conditions which could have been controlled by simple first aid procedures?
Did you know, more than 70% of people who suffer from heart attacks die before they receive any health care? Most deaths occur because we are not enlightened enough, to give little procedures awaiting medical attention. I rummaged through a number of websites in search for a First aid training institution, and fell onto St. Johns Ambulance, whose good training I’ve heard of. I will someday take the full course, and take part in preserving life. Trust me, successful administering of first aid is not only cool, but you feel like some sort of super human!
First aid has suffered a number of fallacies, such as leaning back and holding the nose during a nosebleed, which would lead to the blood flowing back to the stomach, thus causing nausea and vomiting, or more severe damage if there is heavy bleeding. The victim should instead lean forward and pinch the nose.
First aid is very necessary to a victim, BUT there is need it’s done properly, since it may pose a higher risk to the victim than they are already in. Get yourself some training.
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