I have never saved a life and hope that I never have to kneel on someone’s chest at the airport and start punching it like crazy.
If someone at the next table in a fancy restaurant suddenly started choking on the sardines on toast, I wouldn’t know what to do except get up and start thumping him on his back. That is what I have been taught — if you see someone choking, hit him hard on the back, as most probably the pain will make him forget about choking.
The reason why I am writing about saving lives is that a friend at a hospital has agreed to give me (and a bunch of my colleagues) free training in first-aid and CPR — cardiopulmonary resuscitation is said to be a life-saving technique useful in many emergencies.
When I asked my colleagues if they were interested, I was surprised to see many really eager to join in. Somehow, I was under the impression that journos are usually the last people on earth anybody would except to be seeing saving someone.
If we see someone in trouble, most of us would rather whip out our smartphones and shoot off an SMS to the editor on duty that one would be ready to start blogging in the next five minutes about this guy lying in the middle of the street. We would also be adjusting the light settings on the camera to get that perfect shot of this person lying there, trying to tell us something.
Like I said, I have never done anything useful for anybody else in my life, except maybe one time when I helped an old lady cross a busy street and it had seemed like time had stopped.
It was a busy street in a town in India and pedestrians were usually invisible to motorists and in that chaos, I saw this gentle lady hesitant to step off the footpath (pavement) on to the street. I went up to her and held her by the elbow and we started shuffling down the street. Only then did I realise that it was a very, very foolish thing to do.
As they say, my life flashed before my eyes as we walked through the line of honking cars and swearing cyclists, but somehow we reached the other side. That put me off for ever about doing anything for anyone.
For some reason, Hollywood movies mock the idea of giving first-aid or CPR to someone in distress. The scene either shows someone breathing into someone’s mouth and making a face, or someone banging on the chest and shouting: “Breathe, please breathe. Don’t leave me now.” Or suddenly plunging a long hypodermic needle right into the heart, making the victim sit upright with a gasp.
My friend at the hospital said the course is for four hours and it will be on a Friday, starting real early. He said that we would have to work on dummies to stimulate real-life emergencies and that we would then be given cards that would show we were fully trained as first-aid givers.
That should be interesting as the only thing I know about saving lives and first-aid is what I have learned from my wife. Whenever I go on a trip, she goes into the walk-in closet and pulls out a small see-through plastic bag with a floral design and stuffs it with life-saving things.
She pulls out the life-savers from a stuffed drawer which looks like someone had been pinching things from a hospital pharmacy for years.
“This is for headaches,” she says. “This is for a loose tummy after you eat greasy food. Take these homeopathic pills every five seconds if you feel nauseous and dizzy. And this is the photocopy of your health insurance card.”