This is a picture of my sister Lyn from our trip to Ireland this past summer. Lyn was a swimmer throughout high school and college, and is an avid marathon runner and triathlon participant. In the past couple of years, she has also taken up scuba-diving and is trained as a scuba-diving lifesaver. While running a half-marathon in Ridgefield, Connecticut yesterday, Lyn had the chance to put her life-saving skills to the test.
She noticed a man up ahead of her fall down during the race, and her first thought was “oh, someone just tripped, that really sucks” but immediately realized that he fell straight backwards, landing on his back and hitting his head on the pavement. She and a few other runners knelt down to try to help, none of them knowing what to do. Dark red blood was pouring out of the back of his head on the pavement. His eyes were rolled back into his head and his mouth was open. One runner suggested they elevate his legs, and another held his hand and spoke to him, using his name, Roy (printed on his registration). Someone called 911 and Lyn checked his pulse, then realized that he seemed to have stopped breathing. Then his face had begun to turn purple, and she thought, “I have to do something.”
She began mouth to mouth resuscitation and “put some breath back into him.” After a moment, she said, his chest heaved and he breathed in deeply. At that point another runner came up who was an emergency room doctor and took over until the EMT arrived. Roy was then given a defibrillator and (I believe) a tracheotomy, stabilized, and taken to the hospital (after the ambulance arrived, a full 30 minutes later–ahem). Although Lyn said she’d been taught that you always fill out a report after participating in something like that (using a procedure on someone) she was told it wasn’t necessary, thanked by the EMT and sent on her way. She’ll have to wait, perhaps, until the next race to find out how Roy is recovering.
Isn’t Lyn great?! They call people who perform CPR “rescuers.” Lyn actually gave breaths to Roy who was not breathing by putting her mouth on his and forcing air into his lungs. In situations like this, where someone has stopped breathing and has suffered a heart attack, there is a very small window of opportunity in which to use CPR before permanent brain damage and tissue death will occur. You never know when you might be in a situation like this, and it really makes me want to get certified to do it myself. I’m really proud of my sister for thinking so fast on her feet, for not being afraid to put her knowledge into action, and for doing what it took to keep this man alive until professionals could take over. And Roy, we hope you are hanging in there…