By: Daniel Otero
“Put your money where your mouth is.”
Nanjing, China – I find it extraordinary when the reaction time in emergencies for developing countries is nil to nothing! There was once an incident that truly shocked me, during the past earthquakes of 2009 in China, rescuers from all over the world wanted to help; however, only those that were Chinese were only able to participate! Everything from the diving contingencies to excavating bodies was not performed till authorities arrived into the devastated areas. Causing valuable loss of life and wasting valuable time for those closer to the accident sites. For example, Chinese or foreign could have done more than to stand around and watch with their arms crossed!
And it seems when it comes down to it, people in China are not reacting or few are taking actions during rescues and emergency situations, unless directed by government! People just freeze-up and watch during traumas… Now, schools, like High Schools and Colleges have a long way to go! But training thank goodness has begun!
When we look back, those of use that live or have lived in Nanjing in the summer of 2012, how lucky we were! We did have a small quake! It wasn’t grand and still, a rather scary experience. People were running out buildings like ‘scared deer, with their eyes gapping wildly out of their heads and fully opened!’ Citizens forgot the simple principles of staying clear headed and focusing more on places of refuge. Screams like those prophesying the end of times vibrated throughout Xianlin! Nobody thought about falling debris or the dangers of standing between two buildings. It’s like accidents ‘here’ are waiting to happen! And honestly, it’s a miracle that tragedies don’t happen with greater frequency! Maybe it’s thanks to people with still the communal experience of behaviour.
It’s scary when an overpopulated country has not taken the measures to educate the population. How can this happen? In my classes, sixty to eighty percent of the students cannot even swim and my God, what danger of disaster if they ever boarded a boat and it sunk with them inside!
*Therefore, I decided since I arrived in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province to show images of CPR, since I cannot instruct anymore!
What are the basics of CPR? Well, for starters, ‘C’ is for Cardio—rhythm of the heart. ‘P’ follows with Pulmonary, breathing or movement of the lungs. It ends with ‘R’, Resuscitation–to bring or come back to life!
Now, for most people that believe they will always have an ambulance and doctor nearby, ha, good luck with that one and think again! Forgive me, but an ambulance takes [on average] in China 20 to 45 minutes to arrive. It only takes six minutes for a person to become brain-dead or die! So, what’s a person to do? The best way is to react with a simple, basic rule… Relax and call 120! Then, take the person and check for a pulse upon unconsciousness or heart attack. If no pulse, then begin with two quick breaths by opening the mouth and after, compress the middle of the chest five times. Give another breath and continue another five times and check for the pulse again! This is done from the sides of the neck or middle-inner wrist on the unconscious person’s body using two fingers (middle and index). If no reaction, repeat one more time until person becomes conscious, you’re too tired to continue or an ambulance arrives.
‘No’, we are not doctors, and this can be a family member or love one! Therefore, you better decide right! Better to do something, than stand there and do nothing at all… Good Samaritan laws are starting to be implemented in China and so, we have to be careful when trying to save a stranger! Even with China’s communal pragmatism, you can still get sued ‘for doing the right thing’ in this ever growing capitalist society and unfair world!
The most important thing in any emergency event, please don’t lose control! Try to relax, breath slowly and steadily, while oxygenating your body or else, you’ll become victim number two!
The same goes with a food-choking victim. Keep always in mind the number five. Like when doing the Heimlich manoeuver; slap the upper back portion one, two, three, four and five. Keep everything in mind by counting out loud!
Ask questions, “Can I help you?” Never assume.
Let the person know you’re moving behind them. Remember, you’re invading their personal space and Chinese people are shy and like to keep a certain distance of at least one metre.
When this doesn’t work! Or if the person continues chocking, then move behind them, put your arms around their stomach. Except if they’re a pregnant person, press directly on her chest, between her breasts. While placing one of your legs between theirs! This is to give stability/support, just in case they faint or fall back, you can hold them upright! Make a fist with one hand and press with the other. Again, you’re only doing it five times until food is dislodged!
On the other hand, if the person has fainted or they’re already on the ground, open the mouth and check for food! If there is any, use your ‘pinky’ finger try to pull it out. Then, give two quick breaths and begin Heimlich from the ground! How? Go down to victim’s stomach and begin by pressing-you guessed it-five times upward and again check the mouth for food. If it doesn’t work, give one more breath and continue on the stomach until food comes out, you grow too tired or an ambulance arrives!
For swimming, not as easy as saving a life on land; since I’m not a qualified Instructor, Rescuer or Lifeguard member anymore. The only thing I do is give suggestions, based on personal experience and through the showing of photographs/images. This helps people understand how important it’s to learn to swim or get CPR qualified. As far as floating techniques are concerned [for those that can’t swim], I suggest people to make the ‘sign of the Christian cross’ when falling into the water—by extending arms and toes out into a flex motion. And, although they’ll take in some water, the body will float automatically upward!
For in China, perhaps through good education they can absorb all the goodness of the world and learn to help others. What a great feeling, to be able to help!
*Again, I’m not a qualified professional anymore. However, if you may ask, I was qualified for 20 years (1988 – 2008). Therefore, you should consult your doctor or physician before experimenting with any of these techniques at home or in public. The other suggestion would be to get professional “CPR and Lifeguard Training” before trying to rescue a stranger.