My wife, Stacy, and I were out enjoying a nice dinner a couple of months ago when a look of horror came over Stacy’s face. A man behind me passed out and fell backwards, and the back of his head slapped against the table, knocking him unconscious.
Fortunately, this was not a life-threatening situation, although he did have a concussion. I was able to provide emergency care until the ambulance arrived. The folks at the restaurant were very appreciative and gracious and bought us dinner.
A few weeks later, Stacy and I were sitting at the corner of a bar, having dinner. It was already late and we didn’t want to wait for a table. This time, Stacy screamed.
I turned around and saw a man giving the universal choke sign. His arms and legs were flailing, and he couldn’t make a noise. I instinctively got behind the man and performed the Heimlich maneuver.
I finally felt something pop and the man let out a loud scream, which is actually a good thing because it meant his airway was open. I guided him to a chair and checked his vital signs.
As I was performing the Heimlich maneuver, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that nobody from the restaurant was doing anything. Everyone was just frozen.
I’ve been going to this restaurant for about 20 years and I know the general manager. He was also very appreciative and gracious and bought us dinner. I asked him where his AED defibrillator was. He didn’t know what an AED unit was.
An AED defibrillator is a portable device that delivers electric shocks through the chest using paddles. You’ve probably seen it used many times on TV and in the movies. Recent studies have shown that this device is more effective in certain types of emergencies than CPR.
I then asked the general manager if any of his employees were trained to respond to a medical emergency, whether that means using an AED, administering CPR, or performing the Heimlich. He said, “No.”
We all remember the classic line from TV and movies, usually in a comedy, when someone is choking or seems to be having some kind of health scare, whether it’s a stroke or a heart attack.
Is there a doctor in the house?! Is there a doctor in the house?!
A doctor would always be present and take action, the person in distress would recover, they would crack a few jokes, and the TV show or movie would continue as if nothing happened.
If only real life always had a happy ending.
I believe it’s the responsibility of every business to make sure certain employees, if not all employees, are trained in first aid and what steps should be taken in an emergency situation.
Of course, the first step is to call 911 and get help on-site as quickly as possible. But make sure someone can fill the critical gap between the onset of the problem and the arrival of an ambulance.
Here at Natural Healthcare Center, all staff members in all departments, from clinical nutrition to billing, are trained and recertified every two years by Team Life in Colts Neck. We have an AED defibrillator, and everyone knows how to use it.
For certain business categories, like restaurants or any facility that cares for or caters to children, this type of training should be a requirement. As we know, kids get more than food stuck in their throats. That’s why it’s a good idea for any parent or guardian to be trained in basic first aid and emergency care as well.
As we gather with loved ones during the holidays, we’re reminded of the most important things in life – caring for each other, protecting each other, and keeping each other safe. I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and safe New Year.