Monday, September 5, 2011

It's Not Like That.

"Sir, sir, are you okay?!"

I look to the left of my pool chair, into the corner of the swimming area.  A man is lying on the cement floor; a young lifeguard is kneeling over him.

My heart races as I reach for my phone.  I know this scene.  I'll call 9-1-1.  I've been here.  I know what to do.

I watch closely, before I actually press Send and contact the dispatcher.  Why is nobody else responding?  Surely, they can see the emergency?

And then I look more closely at the scene.  The man is lying still on the cement floor, and the lifeguard is leaning over him.  She loops her long, cheerleader hair behind her ear.  Another lifeguard is standing next to them, and she holds a clipboard in her hand.

And she says, "Begin chest compressions."

The long-haired lifeguard pantomimes the lifesaving process, without actually touching the victim.  Her hands hover over his chest, pretending the rhythm of compressions.  She leans over his face and pretends to listen for breath.  Of course she hears it, because he's not in danger.  She audibly counts the breaths she would breathe into his lungs, if he really needed anything at all.

They're just practicing.

Part of me wants to fly wildly out of my chair and scream at them, "Can't you see there are people here?  Can't you see that I am here?  Do you think I want to watch this show of yours?"

But they're not putting on a show.  They are preparing for disaster.  And they don't know my story.  And it's awfully narcissistic of me to ask them to take their training elsewhere.  And if I had never had my own CPR training (through health class, summers as a camp counselor, and years in an elementary classroom), I would not have known what to do. 

But I knew.  I knew what to do.  And I don't have to wonder if I did all I could.  I didn't stand helplessly.  I knew what to do.

At the very least, I want to say to those calm, reserved, checklist-marking lifeguards, "It isn't like that.  It doesn't happen that way.  You don't count to thirty.  You don't do that 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand' bit.  You just do your best.  You do your damned best and you fight like hell."

Instead, I take my book and move to sit by the splashing fountain.  There, I can watch my big boys play, but I can neither hear nor see the practice rescue techniques. 

It seemed to me the pool would be a safe place for us to go.  I mean, aside from the water danger (which is in itself signficant, although I comfort myself with the false security that no greater harm can happen to us, that we have survived the worst).

I would like to have a written note dismissing me from all CPR training and exposure for the rest of my life. 

For the rest of my life.  Please. 


John said...

"I would like to have a written note dismissing me from all CPR training and exposure for the rest of my life.

For the rest of my life. Please."

I love being a paramedic and wouldn't change it for the world, but I say this prayer almost word for word after each and every code I am on.

Peace to you and your boys.

Noel said...

I'll take one of those notes, too.

Sorry, sweetie. Well done for just moving on, though, and staying at the pool. Not running. You're very brave.