How To Save a Life

This week I had intended to send a rebroadcast of a past newsletter while I enjoyed some time off, but after experiencing a frightening incident last week during dinner, I changed my plans. I learned something very important that I'd like to share with you.

Michael and I met two close friends, Annie and Bruce, for a meal at one of our favorite restaurants. The evening started out with great conversation, catching up on the recent happenings of our lives, and plenty of laughs -- something I just love. Once the food arrived, we started eating as we continued our discussion. Within minutes Annie began choking on her salmon. At first, I didn't realize the severity of what was happening until Annie looked at me with terror in her eyes and pointed to her throat. I realized something was seriously wrong.

I immediately turned to Michael for help. As a fitness professional who's worked in the health industry for years, I assumed he'd know what to do. Sure enough, before the words were even out of my mouth, Michael was behind Annie using the Heimlich maneuver. After three unsuccessful attempts, I yelled to Bruce to call 911. It was a horrible moment. Then, on the fourth attempt, Michael bent Annie over at the waist and tried again. This time the obstruction moved and she began to breathe.

It took quite a while for all of us to recover. After such a frightening experience, I felt compelled to share the story with you for several reasons. First, had Michael not been there, both Bruce and I admitted we would not have known what to do. While we certainly had heard of the Heimlich maneuver, it became obvious pretty quickly that there was more to it than simply grabbing someone around the waist and pulling in. Not only were there specific ways that you needed to administer the technique, without doing it correctly, one could seriously injure the person involved.

Second, we learned from Michael that it can take several attempts (as many as 20!), to dislodge an obstruction. I was already panicking when Michael's first three attempts hadn't cleared her airway. Had I been the one performing the maneuver, there's a good chance I would have stopped and rushed to look for help. That decision could have cost Annie her life.

Finally, it's not until something like this happens that you have a visceral, painful sense of what helplessness feels like when someone you love is in trouble and you don't know what to do. I'd like to spare you that experience. Please take a few moments to read about the Heimlich Maneuver here. Then, please take the quiz and consider the advice in our "Take Action Challenge" this week. Being prepared may just save a life.

Take Action Challenge

Please consider taking a first aid course from your local Red Cross organization. They offer a variety of programs that teach you to handle things like cardiac arrest, choking, sports-related injuries, etc. They even offer babysitter training and pet first aid. Here's a little motivation: Take the Red Cross "Could You Save a Life?" quiz here.

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Author Information

Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

Books from Cheryl Richardson

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