21 January 2016

At the Ready


Lost in another world while crocheting away on a natural-dyed cowl, I was snatched back into reality when the standing passenger on the other side of the seated passenger next to me collapsed. The train was sardine-packed, as usual, so it took a while for the ailing passenger to hit the floor, but the slowness of the descent miraculously softened the blow, and the wad of passengers further cushioned the impact.

Three times, I'd been aboard a train when medical emergencies occurred, but this was the first time I had been close enough to assist, if needed.

This time, I was amazed three other passengers also had first aid training and immediately responded. As it turned out, the passenger who passed out was suffering dehydration and was well enough to be escorted to services at the next stop. Again, I was amazed by the number of passengers willing to help.

Renews my faith in the world!

This experience, however, reminded me how important it is to keep my first aid skills up to date. I was not needed this time, but the circumstances could have gone a hundred different ways.

I've had basic first aid training ever since my first year in girls' camp, at the age of 12. I've been certified off and on since about ten years later, the first time I served as a girls' camp assistant director.

Many times, my certification has lapsed, either because I was too remote or too broke to renew.

In 2003, a few days after an attempt at Challenger Point with my good friend Ferenc (rhymes with Terence), I learned from Ferenc' trip report tragedy had struck on the mountain that day.

I had not been close enough to help Stano and Martina, but also, my certification at that point had expired. I could have done whatever needed to be done if I had encountered the need, but I did not have up-to-date training.

Just a few months earlier, I was in Moab training for my first Ride the Rockies at nearly the same time Aron Ralston was in central Utah about to make headlines. I was nowhere near close enough to help when he needed help, but the adrenaline pulsating when I learned of his predicament made me realize my first aid training had not been updated in a few years. I spent a lot of time in the wilderness. What if I had come upon someone who needed help, and I didn't have adequate training?

I did renew my certification later that year. It has expired twice since that time. But I'm current now. I've been current ever since we got an AED at work. Volunteers on each floor were sought to maintain CPR and AED certification, just in case. I volunteered to be the officially certified helper on my floor. (There are three other volunteers on my floor, too.)

If the train passenger that morning had been in a fight for life, I could have helped. And I was right there.

I am no Boy Scout, but for that day, my peacock feathers may have been visible. I was prepared. I intend to stay that way. I just recertified again last week. What about you? Are you ready?


  1. I never got the whole re-certification thing though. Once you know, isn't that knowledge always there? Not like some new way comes out every year. Good to know though indeed, great people helped out too.

    1. Yes, Pat, things do change, and sometimes more influenced by law suits than by health. Unbelievable, but true. For instance, you now have to have permission to assist someone who is choking, and the maneuver is called an upward abdominal thrust instead of a formal name because the family of the former name wants royalties every time the former name is used. Crazy.

  2. It's kind of spooky. You never know when something is going to strike someone or yourself.


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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