Posted by: ritagone | February 22, 2012

Adding to Our Days

I’m CPR certified!

Yesterday a friend of ours who is both a nurse and certified to teach a class in CPR certification came to our house to teach seven of us how to administer CPR compressions should we ever need to do so.  We each had our own dummies, watched a DVD with clear-cut instructions, and also learned how to use mouth-to-mouth if necessary.  We also saw how an AED (automated external defibrillation) machine comes in handy if one is nearby in case of emergency.

All in all, I feel better prepared should I come upon someone collapsed on the street or in the aisle of the grocery store.

It’s not that impossible a scenario.

One of the friends who took the class was there because a few months ago, her husband, who has had two open-heart surgeries and a few stents inserted over the last ten years already, was out for his late afternoon constitutional.  Linda was going to pick him up in her car at 5 p.m. at a pre-arranged rendezvous spot so that they could go on to a family dinner.  As she pulled up to the intersection where they were supposed to meet, she saw a crowd of people.  She saw a man on the ground.  He was wearing the same clothes Tom had on when he left for his walk.  Her own heart lurched.  She knew immediately that this was her husband.  She parked her car and rushed over to the scene just as he was being put on a gurney and taken by ambulance to the local hospital, a short distance away.

As it turns out, he had collapsed suddenly on his walk.  And as it also turns out, a woman who worked at the hospital was on her way to pick up her child, saw Tom collapse, pulled over, rushed over to him and began administering CPR immediately.  The incident took place in front of a daycare center, and someone came running out.  The woman yelled that “911” needed to be called.  The paramedics “happened” to be just across the street, in the supermarket.  It took them less time to get to the scene than it did to make the call.

He should be dead, should Tom.  But because this woman acted quickly and knew CPR, and because the paramedics were so close, he’s alive and well.

Well, it just wasn’t his time.


Or maybe God allowed a person who knew CPR to save his life.

You never know.

My friend Mickey and her husband Bob live in Oregon.  Bob was in his workshop in the basement of their home.  Mickey was in the kitchen, preparing dinner.  You couldn’t imagine a more banal evening.  Bob came upstairs to get a new battery for a tool.  Suddenly he felt chest pains and called out to Mickey.  She knew immediately that something was drastically wrong with him by the tone of his voice.  She dialed 911 as she was walking into the living room, where she found him collapsed in a chair.  She had worked in an emergency room in my area for many years, so she was familiar with life-saving practices.  She knew from looking at him that he was in bad shape, so she threw the phone on the floor, pulled him out of the chair and onto the floor, and started CPR.

For seven minutes (as it turned out), she did CPR on him, until the paramedics arrived.

She saved his life.

It turns out Bob had had what is called “Sudden death syndrome.”  Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?  It is.  It’s a rarity, thank goodness, but it does happen, and for Bob, a guy with no previous heart disease or problems, it meant that his heart just plain stopped.  No rhyme or reason.

Had it happened in his workshop in the basement – had he not come upstairs to get a new battery – Mickey probably would have found him too late.  So that dead battery – and CPR – saved his life.

When they went to the cardiologist the following week, all the staff turned out of the offices to applaud her.  She was truly a hero.  You can bet she was and is Bob’s hero!

Both of these stories happening so near each other to people I know and love convinced me that it would be a good thing to know CPR, both for those I love and for that rare time when God could possibly use me in the life of someone I don’t know.  Or just for that sense of confidence that some new knowledge gives you.

Psalm 39:4 asks God: “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.”  Surely anyone who has had a close brush with death can testify to the truth of this verse.  Only the young and foolish think they will live forever.

But if knowing CPR can legitimately add to someone’s life, why not know it?

So I guess there’s a twofold application here today, both spiritual and practical: God does know the number of our days, of course, without doubt.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t take our vitamins.  And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn all we can about taking care of ourselves and others, including something as vital as CPR.

I’ll try to write a bit next week from the U.K., where I’ll be for Christian Associate’s Leadership Summit!


  1. Okay, you’ve motivated Rich and I to get certified. I was certified but it was in the 80’s so I think I’m way overdue for a refresher course. My sister, who is a nurse, was on the treadmill at the gym one evening after work. Suddenly the man on the machine next to her went limp and fell off the treadmill. My sister gave him CPR. He was unresponsive and passed away. He was a dentist in his 50’s and had no history of heart disease. She said she’ll never forget what it was like seeing him collapse.

    We should all be prepared. You never know….

    • It’s very different now, I understand, from what you had to do in the 80’s…much easier. Do it!! Well worth it.

      • Rita, Rich and I were able to get into a CPR class on Tuesday night at our local YMCA. We are now certified. Thanks for the push in that direction. We just put in a pool so we both need to know for that reason as well. And I’m sure there’s more we need to know for water safety.

        Again, thanks for the nudge.

  2. Hey Rita, that is an awesome story(ies). I feel encouraged reading that, thank you so much! Have fun at C.A. and stay healthy, friend! 🙂

  3. Thanks for getting the word out there Rita. Just for clarification purposes the diagnosis I saw on his paperwork was “sudden cardiac death” but the event was caused by a clot in his LAD, the main artery to the heart. It lodged in such a way as to block off the blood flow to both sides. Son Chris says that in his ER at Mission Hospital they call it “the widowmaker”.

    What a terrifying event for Linda to encounter. It just goes to show that like in the Psalm above, our days ARE numbered and if it’s not our time yet, God makes sure everything is in place for survival. In my case, I’m not sure if the Lord was answering my plea of “Not now, Jesus, I’m not ready, not now” as I was doing CPR or it just wasn’t his time. Doesn’t matter, however…we just have to trust our lives into his hands, use the brains that he created us with and live our lives.

    I’m glad you got a group together to take the class. You never know when someday that might make a difference!

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