August 10, 2006

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Nashua Publisher's Note: Local heroes
By Jeff Rapsis

News that a mail clerk at the Nashua Post Office was rescued last week by coworkers after going into cardiac arrest on the job is the kind of story that I wish we’d see in the news more often.

That's not because I'd like to see more people suffer from potentially fatal heart trouble. Rather, I think it’s great when people who aren't full-time emergency professionals have enough training to at least provide basic first aid.

In this case, the coworkers were trained in using a defibrillator and in CPR. Good thing they were; a doctor later said that it made a difference in saving the man’s life.

It makes you think. In my case it makes me recall sitting through a defibrillator training session when I worked for a local company a few years back.

The training was perfunctory at best; afterward, I probably wouldn’t have been able to find the thing in the building, never mind use it on anyone.

Luckily for anyone who might have had cardiac trouble, I was never called upon to use it. But I suspect my experience is similar to that of so many other people—the company orders you to go to mandated training, and you roll your eyeballs but file into the conference room, immediately forgetting everything you’re told.

I suppose it’s human nature to not want to prepare for emergencies—nobody really wants to ponder the worst. (And if they really do, that’s another problem.)

But most of us will at some point face a situation where our ability to respond might make a serious difference.

My closest experience (so far) to this was when I was in my early teens. I was going to my piano lesson and had to check on my grandmother, who at the time lived in a small cottage in back of our house on Prescott Street.

I found her in the bathroom, unable to move and asking for help. She had suffered a stroke; my mother called an ambulance while I held my grandmother up (she had a bum leg) to keep her from collapsing and falling.

We lived on a stub end of Prescott Street that wasn’t connected to the rest of the street due to a steep hill. And sure enough, the ambulance came up the wrong end of the street, meaning it had to go all the way around the neighborhood to find us, losing valuable time.

My grandmother ended up being all right. Later, however, my mother had our portion of the street renamed to West Prescott Street to avoid future confusion.

That’s one form of preparation. A more practical course is for you to get some training to help people in emergencies. Go take a CPR class. If that’s too much, you can at least donate blood; there’s a shortage right now, and donations are urgently needed.

Your next chance is on Thursday, Aug. 17, when blood donations will be taken from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 120 D. W. Highway South.

All of these activities are no different from what the post office co-workers did last week—they’ll help others who face emergencies, and you’’l be a hero.


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