But, then and now, I hope the time to use the learnings from my earnings never arrives.
The card? Itâ€™s similar to a regular business card or like one of those coupons a pizza joint provides for a free family-sized pie after ten purchases. It has a white background with tiny black lettering. Thereâ€™s a distinctive red symbol on the left side. Underneath Larry Patten (yes, my name) and next to the Red Crossâ€™ red cross are the fancy words, â€œhas completed the requirements for CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer and the Healthcare Provider.â€
After an 8-hour Red Cross training session, I can perform CPR. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. And I know how to use the AED device. Automated External Defibrillator. The AEDâ€”modest in size, mighty in purposeâ€”sends an electrical shock into the body. Used properly, an AED can be the literal heartfelt difference between life and death.
At least, thatâ€™s what the card with smallish print claims is now part of my skill-set. But I beg you, please donâ€™t collapse onto the recently mopped floor of the local mall, unconscious and unresponsive while doing your holiday gift buying. Yikes! Other shoppers might gawk or scurry away. But Iâ€™m the dude with the official card.
Or would that be dud?
I did pass that test! I do know the drill!
Check the immediate area. Is it safe? Then Iâ€™ll loudly ask you (the person sprawled between Victoriaâ€™s Secret and the Hallmark store), â€œAre you OK?â€ Since you donâ€™t answer, Iâ€™ll make sure a fellow mall-crawler calls 9-1-1. Then, taking no more than ten seconds, Iâ€™ll assess you for breathing and movement. Iâ€™ll give you two rescue breaths to determine any airway blockage. No worries . . . there wonâ€™t be direct mouth contact because I carry sterile resuscitation masks in my back pocket (right pocket has child/infant mask and the left holds the adult-sized mask).
You have a pulse! Whew. I donâ€™t need the AED unit, though itâ€™s tucked into my daypack.
Unconscious? You still are.
Now Iâ€™ll tilt your head back to clear the air passage and start breathing for you: one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand one/give a breathâ€¦one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand two/give a breath. And so on.
Hey, this is the kind of lip service you want!
After two minutes, Iâ€™ll re-evaluate your condition: still near Victoriaâ€™s Secret, with a pulse, not breathing. Back to work. Donâ€™t worry, Iâ€™ll do this until the cows return to the barn and the pigeons come home to roost and the professional emergency people arrive.
I viewed the Red Crossâ€™ informative media presentations, listened to the instructor, and collaborated with other eager trainees on choking and two-person CPR. I resuscitated the plastic dummy ten times. Maybe more? Never once did Mr. Dummy die. (Nor did Mr. Dummy ever thank me.) I was a hero for the Dummy familyâ€™s stiff-jointed, sour-faced baby. I guarantee you, that thick-skinned tyke was back to breathing after I finished with him. Or her? I took the 40-question exam and missed two questions. You could flub eight and still pass.
Honestly, I know nearly nothing. I beseech you: donâ€™t tumble to the floor when Iâ€™m nearby.
Spending a day in Red Cross training nudged me to ponder the end of time according to Markâ€™s gospel. Though, as Mark confided, we â€œdo not know when that time will come.â€ Of course, Mark referred to the apocalypse when the â€œsun will be darkened.â€ According to the Red Cross, the only time Iâ€™m prepared for is a personâ€™s lack of breathing and/or pulse. And yet, arenâ€™t bothâ€”Creation and each and every mortal humanâ€”teetering toward the end of time?
Before leaving class, I told the instructor that I wasnâ€™t ready to actually use CPR or an AED in the â€œreal world.â€ I told him I took the class in case I found a part-time job as a hospice chaplain, but to use my brief acquaintance with the Dummy family to actually save someone . . .?
He smiled and nodded. â€œWhen someone is hiredâ€”as a nurse, firefighter, police, and even chaplainâ€”they regularly work on their skills with their team. Then you get out in the field. Then you practice more. Here, weâ€™re just one small part of the learning.â€
One small start . . .
The Gospel of Mark (including other apocalyptic writers like Daniel and Revelation) claimed the world would soon end. One way or the other, it will. I trust scientific theories, confident our sun will eventually consume its gasses and become a so-called red giant. Not good for human life on Earth. But an end will come. Billions of years from now . . . no sunrise, no sunset. No sun.
Soon (December 3 this year), Adventâ€™s season begins. Again. As usual, it scripturally jumpstarts with a doomsday reminder like Mark 13. Urgency reigns. Calamity lurks around the corner.
Should I fret over Markâ€™s warning of future doom? Well, God knows, whatever happens, and whenever it happens, itâ€™s above my pay grade.
And yet what have I learned? What will I practice?
I remember the first lesson in my CPR/AED class. Stay alert. Assess the situation.
Every single day I can help save a life. Maybeâ€”especially if I practice my CPR again and againâ€”it will be because of the Red Cross-sanctioned breath of life. But I donâ€™t need to wait for someone to collapse near Victoriaâ€™s Secret. Indeed, stay alert. Assess the situation. With every person, perhaps my words of kindness or my actions of compassion or my willingness to listen will revive another personâ€™s literal or symbolic heart.
Tomorrow, maybe, the sun darkens.
Today, how can I help it shine?