Feb 1, 2007 by

While waiting in line in a Sears store for a replacement watch battery, a patron had a medical emergency. He was an older man, who sat down on the bench as his watch was being opened.  When the watchmaker asked him a question, he was unresponsive.  As the watchmaker approached him, the old man slumped more and began to drool.   So… what if you were standing next to him?   Do you know the signs of a stroke, or a heart attack?  Is your CPR technique up-to-date?   The start of a new year is a good time to evaluate your skills and sign up for classes to improve them.    Usually it is a family member who needs help-now is the time to prepare.   The old man?

Well, the clerks called 911 and continued to monitor his status until the paramedics arrived.  From time to time he would regain consciousness, then nod off again.  There were no external signs of a seizure nor of pain.  The paramedics arrived within 5 minutes and assessed the situation.   He told them that he was diabetic, but was not on insulin.  They had difficulty measuring his blood pressure-it was low.  They tested his blood sugar and started him on a saline drip.

He was too weak to sit up by himself.  As he was being loaded on the gurney for a trip to the hospital, he asked to be released from their care so he could go home by himself.  He was in the hospital last week and didn’t want to go back.   The captain in charge assured him that they would take good care of him, but that leaving without him was not an option.   Within the brief span of about ten minutes, they arrived, assessed, began treatment, and transported him to the hospital. The EMTs had trained for years for just such emergencies and their skill and professionalism demonstrated their commitment to excellence.  It is reassuring to know that such men and women are out there, ready to help when we need them.

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