Have you had a hand in saving a life?

24 Jun

It could have been you…

Less than a year ago, if someone asked if I had taken part in saving a life—the answer would have been “no”. Not because I wouldn’t have if I was confronted with the opportunity, but those things just don’t happen to ordinary people. I’m as ordinary as they come.

EMT’s and doctors, police and fire fighters–they save lives like I meet with clients—it is just another day at the office for them. They receive training and prepare daily for those situations when regular people call on them to save the lives of people they don’t even know.

Not too long ago I was presented with an opportunity to look frantically for someone more qualified than me to perform a life-saving act. The ashen faces of those around me didn’t strike me as having the stomach for stepping up to accept the responsibility of helping someone overcome a life-threatening moment in time. Others didn’t even notice there was a crisis taking place.

It has been almost a year, and I still think back to that event. I was waiting in line for a burger (after giving in to a craving) and everyone in the joint was speaking a different language. Laughing and joking is quite universal, and everyone was having a good time. Without understanding a word spoken around me, I totally understood all that was happening.

As I glanced toward a tall woman sitting with her friends, I could see the look of panic on her face as she realized she had lost the ability to breathe. Choking on her food was quickly becoming her last act on this earth. I had never seen someone choking so badly. Her body was weakening and the absolute fright in her eyes is still with me today.

Scanning the crowd frantically, I prayed that someone would step in and do what you’re supposed to do when someone is choking: at least someone who’s been trained to do it. Before I knew it, I felt my body move toward her and I tried to do what I had seen so many times on television. She was a good six inches taller than me. I wasn’t the best person for the job, and I knew she sensed that in her desperation.

When I stood there behind her, no one pushing me aside to do it right, I administered the Heimlich maneuver (or a close facsimile) with all my heart. It seemed like hours passed, and she still could not breathe! I again scanned the restaurant for a better life-saver. No, I was it. I was her only chance to take one more breath… and I prayed that the strength and technique would come to me—SOON!

Yes, I can write this story because the burger and fries she swallowed finally dislodged from her throat, and she gasped that life-giving breath. My prayers were answered, and she found a way to thank me in a language I don’t know to this day. Moments later she was joking and laughing with her friends again, and wolfing down her remaining food. I, on the other hand, was shaking so badly I could barely find the strength to stumble to a chair to comprehend what had just happened. She was young, I’m not–and she had just aged me a few more years!

As I sit here, I think back on that night–and about the young girl. There are times when you have to be the one who steps up to the plate. Life changes in the blink of an eye–and one person can make a difference in the world. She made a difference in mine. I am eternally grateful for the challenge of the split-second decision to make that difference. I often wonder how she is–and where she is… Does she even remember the experience? I know I will never forget it!

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, when you are all the hope that someone has, be the best hope you can be… and it will be enough.

All my best!

Betty Anne


On Twitter @sunsetdreamboox

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