Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Interrupt This Vacation... learn CPR.

I kid you not.

Today I had to return to work in order to take a CPR course. It's my own fault actually, for telling the truth. Where I work, telling the truth is punishable. No. Really. I was "chosen" to attend a training so I can, in turn, teach old folks with arthritis how to exercise. There was a catch; you had to be certified in CPR in order to teach the class. Makes me wonder how arthritis exercise can cause overexertion to the point of coronary or respiratory collapse. I did not volunteer for this duty, I was drafted. I only wish I had a card to burn in order to illustrate my displeasure at more being heaped on my professional plate when I don't even have time to do the dishes I'm juggling now.

So I told the truth. Where it stated, "Are you certified in CPR?" I cheerfully checked NO!

Sigh. Which is how I ended up "leaving" vacation this morning to learn how to do CPR for adults, children and even babies. I don't know how many babies will be in the arthritis class but you never know.

I knew the Instructor, a very professional Paramedic who possess a sense of humor and isn't afraid to use it. He had us watch two 20 minute videos with the disclaimer that when they were through, he would then tell us how the procedure had been updated, even though our employer was too cheap to buy the new video. Six of us took turns trying to resuscitate a bald headed, naked male torso which ended at the bellybutton. Either that or it was the ugliest woman I've ever seen. It was a little disconcerting to see Half-A-Man's chest rise when we gave him two puffs of air , then hear the air rush out of him as we began the 30 chest compressions between breaths. Our instructor, who's a Paramedic, grinned with glee when he said you had to be tough to hang on through CPR. My classmates thought he meant the patient. Uh no, he meant the "help". That's five sets of thirty, plus breathing. I noticed all of us at one point eyeballing our coworkers to see who, in the event of an actual emergency, should be given task #1 on the emergency 911. My Supervisor got breathless pretty fast and some of them got the giggles. I'm proud to say that, although before we started I caught the brunt of the Boss' anger concerning one of my little old ladies complaining to her, then ABOUT her to HER boss, I did not take it out on my Half-A-Man. The Paramedic assured me that my guy would live. For someone whose allergies were giving her the devil this morning, I found that comforting.

We then moved on to infant CPR, followed by the Heimlich maneuver. It was hard not to laugh. Okay, so I bit my lip a couple of times. Most of the group forgot the preliminaries which come with CPR: calling out "Hey, are you all right?", which is followed by shaking the patient or in the case of the baby, tapping it on the foot. As I began this preliminary check, followed by placing the baby in the appropriate position for aid, I saw my Boss smacking her "baby" on the back hard enough to collapse it's backbone as it's head bobbled up and down. Flipping it over, she started the same pounding to it's chest before seeing me using two fingers for compressions. And this from a woman who raised six kids.

The truth is while learning CPR is extremely important, learning it in a group setting where half the guys were single and complaining about playing with dolls...well, it's hard to remain serious. I tried. Lord knows I tried. I'd already been given the nod from the Paramedic for "rescuing" my child properly, so there I sat, waiting for the rest to catch up because they couldn't remember how many chest compressions they'd performed. Looking down at the baby, which I'd cradled in one arm while waiting to pass it off, I smiled and said,"Well kid, I did the best I could. Please, don't throw up on me."

I heard this hearty, explosive laugh. It was the Paramedic.

Next came the Paramedic walking us through the Heimlich maneuver like this: holding up Half-A-Man in front of him, the Paramedic showed us where and how to place our fists, then said, "You've all seen this on t.v. and that's actually how it works." As he applied forceful thrusts with his fist to the torso, I shuddered. I hope no one EVER needs to apply that to me. We then proceeded to the portable defibrillator demonstration. Without using the word "idiot", our instructor explained that anyone could use it by merely following the pictures as they were lit up by the machine. Someone asked how many times you could shock a person. His reply, "As many as it takes. I once had to shock a patient 18 times."

"Wow," replied a member of the class. "How long did it take for him to recover?"

"Didn't," the paramedic replied cheerfully, "He was dead."

Now there's a trust builder.

As we went to leave, the Boss asked if we would receive a certificate for the training. The Boss is big on trainings, especially when they come with a certificate. After 15 years in this job, I have a file cabinet drawer filled with them.

"Sure," he replied jovially. "If you want to be certified, I'll get you a card and you simply pay the fee."

"We don't have money for fees!" Boss exclaimed, as if insulted.

Why, I thought silently, would this man give us his professional time and talents for the past two hours for free? Just because we all work for the same employer? H

The paramedic smiled and said, "I think you can swing it. It's $4 a person."

As Boss said, "We don't have money in the budget for that!" the Supervisor turned to the rest of us and said, "You can give me your $4 tomorrow."

Tomorrow is pay day.

Someone told me later on that if I was required to take the course, THEY were required to pay the fee. If the department can't afford $24, then some of us may need CPR when the budget is fixed for FY 09-10.

Then again, maybe we'll qualify for President's Obama's bailout money. :)


Susan said...

What a day! At least you could find some enjoyment in it, and who knows but it *may* come in handy someday and save someone you love.

It reminds me of the ride I had on the local bus recently: what a group of characters! But hey, that was a lot of entertainment for 50c!

Dave King said...

I think you have the beginning of a novel there!

Peggy said...

Susan's right...a lot of entertainment for $4.00! Glad you could get some laughs out of it.

Poetikat said...

Reminds me of when I had to take St. John's ambulance training to be a camp counsellor. I was fine with the dummies and the CPR, but open fractures did me in! They gave me the certification anyway, but God help me if I ever have to treat a broken bone.

I would have been laughing at your comments too Hope.


There's a new Blast From the Past you might enjoy, by the way.

Terence McDanger said...

Heimlich Himmler. Evil, pure evil.

Oh no, wait, I've done it again haven't I...

hope said...

Thanks folks! I discovered a long time ago that if I can find humor in a situation, I'm less likely to give in to murderous thoughts. :)

Kat..going to check on you now.