A life-saving proposal

August 23, 2019

Do you ever have those days that are supposed to be perfect but then everything goes wrong and your perfect day turns into your perfect nightmare? Well, my fourteenth birthday was a day like that. I do not know why I was so excited to turn fourteen, but I was. I think a large part of my excitement was the fact that my parents decided to take me and my family to this really good wings place. What could be better? Gifts, cake, family and, of course, wings. 

I couldn’t wait for lunch time to have some perfectly cooked BBQ wings. When we finally got to the restaurant and ordered, I was overfilled with excitement. However, my luck changed as soon as my wings came. I barely had time to take my first bite when a man at the table next to ours jumped up and began clutching his throat.

It took me about a minute to figure out what was even going on. When I finally realized he was choking, well, it did not help me much. Most people around me reacted to this by panicking and running around like chickens with their heads cut off, while others decided it would be wise for them to start yelling. I, on the other hand, decided that sitting there frozen would help the man breathe.

Unfortunately, as I later found out, contrary to popular belief, neither of these techniques are effective at saving someone’s life. Shocking, right? I did not give it too much thought at the time, but when I did, I realized that medical emergencies such as this one can happen anywhere and at anytime—at the dining hall, the street, class and even at home.

It eventually dawned on me that even though I wanted to help that man, there was not much I could do, mainly because I did not know what to do. And I did not want to cause further harm to the man, since I was unsure of the actions I should take (at least I get points for not causing any panic, right?). 

Today, I find it crazy how there is a constant threat of an emergency, but knowledge on how to react to these emergencies and basic first aid is uncommon. I understand why only one person (who ended up being a doctor) went to help that choking man: everyone else just did not know what to do. 

This phenomenon is very dangerous; someone could die because of this lack of education. This situation on my birthday was what ignited my dedication for becoming a doctor, and this summer, I became a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  

There is no doubt that, for me, becoming an EMT has been and is continuing to be a very rewarding experience. Learning to deal with medical emergencies has sparked a passion in me for medicine, and one of my goals is to spread medical knowledge and maybe spark this passion in like-minded people.

However, I also understand that not everyone shares my passion for medicine or is made to be a doctor, but this does not mean that they should not have the basic skills to save someone’s life. In an ideal world, these skills should be taught at school, but in our reality, the responsibility of acquiring this knowledge is on us. 

The paradox in which people want to help others in medical emergencies, yet don’t out of fear of harming the victim can only be realistically combated through education. This education is really flexible since it is mainly self-taught. There are also a lot of different education options available to Brandeis students that students can take advantage of.

The most rigorous of these options, which is the option that I chose, is to become a certified EMT. Boston University teaches a class during the spring semesters that allows you to become EMT certified. They are at the club fair, which happens early during the fall semester, so if this is a possibility that you are interested in, be sure to sign up for the listserv there. I can personally vouch for the program at B.U. The program is widely respected across many Emergency Medical Service (EMS) companies and is full of really awesome teachers.

If you are not looking for a program quite that rigorous, then Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) offers a CPR and first-aid class twice a month. This class is around five hours or so and does not really take up too much time. However, taking into account the short time investment put into this class, it is priceless. Not only does it teach invaluable knowledge and skills that can help save a life, but it also fills one of the three physical education requirements.

Other than these two classes, the world is your oyster. You don’t even have to take one of these classes if you are interested in learning about medical emergencies. In this day and age, any morsel of information that you could possibly want is at your fingertips on your phone or computer. A few articles and YouTube videos can go a very long way in terms of gaining knowledge. However, it is important to check multiple sources for the same information just to verify that what you are reading is correct. Mayo Clinic is a very reputable source of information that covers a wide range of medical information. They consolidate information very well and break down medical emergencies in an understandable.

Once you have educated yourself if you decide to, you should encourage others to also get educated, or share some helpful tips with them. By educating others or by talking about the proper steps to take, you are taking part in a movement that seeks to spread medical knowledge in hopes of increasing survival rates of emergencies, such as choking, cardiac arrest and seizures. If we all work together and spread the knowledge, we can mitigate the constant threat of a medical emergency and, with any hope, make the world a much safer place to live in.

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