Hello All. This month I am writing from the heart again. Many times, I find myself in the right place at the right time to give the first aid care that I am passionate about teaching. I teach CPR and First Aid classes in 11 different states and come across people from every walk of life, cultural background, different income status, different religions and many more differences, but one thing is always the same. We all have a heart and our bodies pump blood through our veins to keep us alive.
I have encountered two facilities that have suffered workplace losses due to cardiac emergencies. These two facilities have taken time to train individuals in CPR in the event such tragedy happens, but in both circumstances, the efforts were not successful. With a heavy heart these companies have lost great people due to heart attacks on the job site.
The reason I am telling you this is sometimes we have situations where we are not sure how to react because what we are taught is from a textbook . Life situations do not come from a textbook and we need to gain the basic knowledge of what to do and use our knowledge to manipulate it to fit everyday life.
I was talking with a gentleman that had gone through one of my classes and he kept saying but we didn’t talk about this specifically, but what if, then there was that. . . As we set discussing the situation, it was clear he knew what to do but the circumstances revolving around the co-worker’s heart related death was nothing but textbook.
As an instructor, I welcome questions in class, but there is not enough time in the world to discuss every scenario possible, because no two situations are alike. It is important that people who are taking a class understand that there are guidelines that must be taught and skill sessions to be measured and in a short period. But, any instructor (especially if they are passionate about the topic) should be able to take time and answer any concerns one has regarding first aid and CPR.
So, all this and it brings me full circle to what is called incident stress. Responders can suffer from incident stress and this can occur when a responder helps and the care provided or the situation does not go “according to plan” or with the outcome that is favorable to all parties involved. This prompts responders to question what they did or dissect the situation and run scenarios of WHAT IF. There is nothing anyone can do with the WHAT Ifs. What happened, happened and you need to feel as if you had done everything you have been trained to do. This is something I focus on when teaching my semester long classes and I need to mention more in the half day long classes I teach. Responders may feel guilty if the outcome is not favorable for the victim, and sometimes there are injuries so severe and advanced medical help is too far away to make the best outcome for the victim.
The gentleman I was referring to earlier suffered from incident stress because he had been trained, but the coworker had not completely quite breathing but was gasping for air, he hesitated on what immediate care to provide, but did call 911. We Instructors cannot recreate the real life gasping and life slipping through your fingers to run every scenario possible that a person might encounter when it comes to cardiac emergencies. In listening to the entire story and how the events unfolded, I believe my previous pupil did act according to what needed to be done in that particular incident. I do hope that time will heal the thoughts and stress of wondering about WHAT IF.
Don’t hesitate, take a class and #beprepared for whatever crosses your path.