Your loved one isn't breathing.
You are the only person around.
What do you do?
If your gut reaction is to look for someone else, then that is a sign you could benefit from training. Now that reaction isn't a bad thing; it is a normal reaction to a life-threatening medical situation. Training puts the power back into your own hands so you know that if the worst does happen, no matter where you are or who you are with, you have confidence in your ability to deal with the situation.
The simple fact is, knowing what to do in an emergency situation can mean the difference between life or death for your loved ones. It is natural to think that we can just call an ambulance and they will take care of the situation swiftly. But the reality is, what you do while you wait for paramedics to arrive plays a crucial role in the physical state your loved one is in when they are first attended to by medical staff. That physical state can play a huge role in the recovery of your loved one.
Another big thing to consider is this; you don't know how long it will take for paramedics to arrive. If your loved one isn't breathing, then it is crucial to know how to do CPR yourself because you need to be able to do it until paramedics arrive. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to do CPR effectively; your family could be relying on you alone.
We always think these situations won't happen to us. I thought that, too. I thought it could never happen to me and so, other than mandatory lessons in school, I never upgraded my skills. However, I am in the position to inform you on the importance of training because this situation occurred in my family. It took over seven minutes for paramedics to arrive to assist our son with a defibrillator, and in those seven minutes he was attended to by a person who was recently trained in infant resuscitation.
Basically, a person with CPR training got us to the point where we could have my son treated by a team of medical practitioners. The doctor in charge of treating my son told me that he wouldn't have even made it to ICU had he not had a trained person working on him; he would have passed away before paramedics were able to attend to him. And in my case, it really underscores the basic importance of training because even then it wasn't enough. Sadly, my darling son passed away after a 20 day stay in ICU.
While I cannot bring my son back, what I can do is use my experience to raise awareness of the importance of basic training. Because if it were me, and I were alone, I would not have had the skills to handle the situation. I would have panicked. I am sure paramedics could have instructed me over the phone, but due to my lack of training there would have been time wasted. Time is absolutely precious when dealing with an emergency medical situation. You cannot waste it looking for someone who has skills that you can very easily go and learn right now.
Would you know what to do if your child needed help and you were the only person near to provide it? If you answer no to that question, there are thankfully organizations designed to help. The American Red Cross delivers classes in Adult, Child, and Baby First Aid, CPR, and AED. You can study these classes in a traditional lesson or online. Through training, you have the power to make a difference in someone's life.
Don't regret not learning something that could save the life of a loved one. Be your family's superhero - do it for them.
To find a course near you, visit the American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/index.jsp
Sarah Bell is a writer based in Seoul. Bell's writing portfolio is viewable at http://www.themscript.com