The Doctors Next Door

"Help! Is There a Doctor Here?"

panic button.jpg

I was only a third year medical student when I heard someone yell that. Luckily, I was already at church, which meant I didn't think I'd have to wait in line for my prayers to be answered. I began praying more fervently, "Please, God, let there be a real doctor here. Please. A real doctor who knows what to do."

 

No one responded. I glared at others to STOP praying so my prayer would be heard loud and clear. "Look, I know I'm only a third year medical student. Don't know anything yet. Please send real help. And, uh, this kinda urgent." Still no one responded.

 

I nervously went over to the crowd of people standing around a little old lady who had collapsed. The ushers anxiously asked if I was a doctor and I explained my student status. 

Despite the presumed urgency of the situation, one of the ushers questioned me, saying, "You don't look like a medical student." Hmm...think it's because I looked like this?

 

scared.jpg

 

I didn't know ANYTHING!

 

But when I saw that they were propping her up in the church pew, I realized at least I knew more than they did! 

 

I laid her down flat and directed someone to call "911."  She had a pulse and was breathing on her own, which was most reassuring to me. Although I knew CPR, I hadn't actually used it before.

 

"Help! Is there a doctor here?"

 

Have you ever heard those words before?  What would you do if you see an adult collapse? In addition to perhaps feeling panic-stricken, would you know what to do?  

 

"Aw, com' on, what are the chances that someone's gonna collapse and I'll have to do something?"

 

Well, changes are pretty good that you will encounter someone who collapses outside of the doctor's office or hospital.

 

I've had at least 3 encounters that I can recall. (Ah, the most memorable one was on the day of my college graduation. I'll digress for just a moment. As it happened to be a Sunday, I was at church, already wearing my-new-beautiful-blue-college-graduation-dress. I watched the ushers escort an elderly man out of the service, who collapsed as they got to the back of church. I ran back to help, and just as I knelt down beside him, he proceeded to vomit all over my-new-beautiful-blue-college-graduation-dress. Yup, needless to say, instead I wore an old, ugly black and white skirt, sorely in need of ironing, but at least I made it to the ceremony in time!)

 

Quiz Time!

 

1. What percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in private setting?

a. 10%

b. 30%

c. 50%

d. 80%

 

2. When someone has a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital, there is nothing that can be done to save his/her life.

a. True

b. False

 

3. For every one minute that CPR is not provided when a cardiac arrest occurs, the chances of survival fall 7-10% for each minute.

a. True

b. False

 

Answers:

1. d. The majority of cardiac arrests, 80%,  happen in private residential settings.

2. b. False. The more people who know CPR and the quicker CPR is started, the better.

3. a. True. CPR must be performed as soon as possible.

 

It takes only 1 minute and 8 seconds...

 

Don't be afraid to learn CPR. Don't be afraid to use CPR. You might save the life of someone with a cardiac arrest by calling 9-1-1 and starting CPR. It's easy to learn and I'm not just saying that because I'm a doctor.

 

"Two Steps to Save a Life." Really. The American Heart Association has a 1 minute and 8 second long video on how to save the life of an adult who collapses. Click on this link to watch the video.

 

Better yet, considering attending a CPR class in your area. Click on this link to find local classes. You don't need to be a medical professional to understand the course material. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions, practice your technique, and learn the differences between child and adult CPR.

 

You could save a life some day. Really.

 

 

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