This is a snippet of an email sent to me by one of my daughters.
You’ve undoubtedly seen it.
Think about this… You may not realize it,
but it’s 100% true.
1. At least 2 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they
want to be just like you.
4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you. 5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
6. You mean the world to someone.
7. If not for you, someone may not be living.
In the early 90’s I was an EMT. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy a job at the time and rode shotgun with no pay for the sheer experience.
I flirted with the idea of becoming a Paramedic, an idea that never panned out. I was certified in a device called a MAST garment.
These were inflatable anti-shock trousers that were used in cases of severe blood loss. Inflating the trousers would shunt blood into the chest cavity to allow the perfusion of oxygen to crucial areas of the brain.
If you didn’t know what you were doing when using these trousers, you could easily kill someone.
I learned many valuable techniques that I would hopefully use in the field someday.
After riding for several months, with no steady position in sight, I took a job in the wonderful world of retail, a field I’m still currently in today.
I always wondered if I would have made a good EMT.
It’s funny sometimes how our questions get answered.
10 years later…
It’s December of 2000 and the band is playing a Christmas party.
These parties were usually good because they paid quite well and the food was not your usual, mundane wedding fare.
We took a dinner break and made our way to a sumptuous buffet in the adjacent room. There was Steamship Round, Scallops wrapped in Bacon, Grilled Salmon, Chicken Kiev and an enormous tray of Lobster Newburg (yes, big and juicy chunks of Lobster) – the works.
We loaded up our plates and made our way into the crowded dining room. I remember feeling ravenous that night and couldn’t wait to eat.
I found the band’s table located at the very back of the room and sat down while the rest of the guys trickled over.
I’d just begun to eat when Peter (the guitar player), hurriedly took a sip of his water. He immediately spit it back out onto his plate.
We always screwed around during dinnertime (boys will be boys) so I assumed he was just goofing on me.
I recall thinking, ‘what the hell Peter?’ when he again tried to take a drink of water and again spit it onto his plate.
Oh, Jesus, I thought, he’s choking.
At that moment, Peter began to frantically move his hands to his throat (universal sign) while mouthing to me “I’m choking!”
250 people were immediately silenced and my world went into a bizarre kind of slow motion. Peter quickly stood and ripped off his tuxedo jacket as I dropped my silverware and stood behind him.
I placed my arms around his trunk and positioned my hands at the bottom of his ribcage. When I learned the Heimlich maneuver, I was never sure just how much pressure to exert. I was now about to find out.
I pulled. Once. Nothing, still not breathing.
Twice, nothing again and he’s beginning to freak out.
Three was the magic number.
Out popped a piece of Lobster the size of a small egg.
Peter would be alright.
I said to him, “Didn’t your mother ever tell you to chew your food? You scared the shit outta me.”
He was relieved, said thanks about 20 times before sitting back down to eat.
I was no longer hungry and needed some fresh air.
After walking around outside for twenty minutes I came back in and got a drink at the bar. There was a young guy standing next to me, staring.
I turned to acknowledge him when he said (with a thumbs up),
“Dude, awesome Heimlich.” (true)
I said, “Yeah, man. Awesome.”
That year, Pete surprised me with a bottle of Maker’s Mark for Christmas. I make a point to remind him every year that I saved his sorry ass but he just laughs and says, “I know.”
I’m writing this piece with the hope that if you don’t know the Heimlich maneuver or CPR, sign up for a class at a local Fire Department or Red Cross.
Peter is alive today because I knew what to do. You owe it to not only yourself but to those around you. Because you never know…