Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A lesson well learned

Last week I participated in a very basic and brief CPR Awareness course. When I arrived I laughed to myself and wondered what on earth I was getting myself into. I was the youngest there by about 40 years! It had obviously been well advertised in the local nursing home. I sat down, trying to be oblivious to the stares coming from all sets of eyes, and prepared myself to learn. I think in the end, most were grateful for a young mind in the room as I was the only one who asked questions, and tried to clarify what we were being taught. I even received a second round of applause at certificate time for being the youngest!

Having never taken this kind of course, I was amazed at how simple CPR really is. I think in the past I was put off with having to remember so much information. Without going into it all, we simply learnt - DR ABC.

D - Danger (check for danger to us, bystanders and the patient)
R - Response (does the patient respond to talking, touching etc)

A - Airways (are airways obstructed)
B - Breathing (look, listen and feel for breath)
C - CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. This was the interesting part for me. I always thought the point of this was to restart the heart, when in fact it is used to keep the oxygen flowing through the body until paramedic help arrives.)

We practised on dummies until we had DR ABC down pat. I left feeling confident that should the need arise, I would be able to administer basic care for a patient, and today I almost had to do just that.

Whilst shopping in the dairy aisle at Coles, an elderly lady collapsed next to me. From the moaning and groaning, I knew she wasn't unconscious, but she was in pain and couldn't move. Before I realised what I was doing, I had her rolled onto her side, and was asking her the questions we'd been taught to ask. 'Can you hear me?', 'Can you squeeze my fingers?', etc. By that stage some Coles staff members had begun to crowd around, and I asked one to call an ambulance, and asked others to get a pillow and a blanket. It was very cold on the floor in the dairy aisle! Someone had managed to find the nurse who was travelling with the old lady and her nursing home friends, and by this stage my job was done. My kids sat quietly, open mouthed during the ordeal, but my oldest son spoke up when we were asked what had happened. He had seen her reach for some yoghurt. She then dropped it and attempted to pick it up when she lost her balance. She was a heavy lady using a walking frame, and she dropped with a mighty thump. I was very proud of him for speaking up so confidently. The poor soul was taken off on the ambulance stretcher, and we left to finish our shopping.

The children have been full of questions since then. 'How do they strap her into the stretcher?', 'Does the stretcher roll around in the ambulance?', 'Where will they take her?', 'Will she be ok?'.... I've done my best to assure them she will be fine, but have also taken the opportunity to educate them a little about looking after someone who is hurt.

I guess the moral of this story is that we should all have a basic understanding of CPR, and the handling of sick or injured people. As mothers this is especially important. Whilst we wish and hope that we'll never need to use it, there is always the possibility that we might. I feel proud that I was able to assist today, even in the small way that I did, and I'm ever so grateful to my Mum for making do the CPR course. Thanks Mum!

NB. Please do not take the above information as CPR instructions. These are merely to illustrate my story. CPR training needs to be performed by a professional, and I suggest you contact your local ambulance station for information on courses.


  1. I did mine after my last child was born and believe it to be an essential skill that all mothers should have, after all we are the life savers in our homes aren't we?

    I have used my skills many times on my children, and doing the course has given me the confidence I need to be able to be a better parent.

  2. I did a St John's ambulance course many, many years ago and keep telling myself I should do another now I've got children.

    Well done to you for what you did, many would have just walked by. My son fell at Bunnings on the playground and split his chin open and was concussed. Only one mum and her husband helped me; the cafe man just gave me a paper towel and told me he couldn't call anyone for me, while everyone else stood and watched us deal with a woozy, blood covered little boy. I had never been more disgusted with humanity than at that moment.

    Hugs to you!