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Giving first aid / CPR does a lot of good, even if you don't save their life

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
Giving first aid / CPR does a lot of good, even if you don't save their life
Photo by Martin Splitt / Unsplash

(CW for hypothetical death, obviously)

My partner's taking a first aid course and mentioned this talking point from the trainer. The context is that civilians giving first aid in an emergency don't have the background and emotional preparation that a paramedic does in coping with the fact that the person might still die. Not that it's easy for anyone, I'm sure.

I was like, "I mean of course, even it doesn't succeed, you still did the right thing by trying", but it's not just that. It does actual good.

Firstly, you massively increase the chances that the person's organs will be viable for donation, because even if their brain dies, their organs might be kept 'living' / oxygenated for long enough. (It's still bad that the person died, I'm not saying this makes it good, but "them not dying" was never a card you had in your hand. If the only difference you can make is saving additional lives via organ donation, that's a difference worth making.)

The other part is the good it does for the deceased's loved ones. McLean ["my partner" is getting clunky] didn't pass on what the trainer said here, but it seems instantly clear to me that it would do good. If your loved one died, I think you would care a lot that someone was with them, trying to save them, vs finding out that no one attempted to help.

Plus, you might have thoughts like "if only I'd been there, if only I'd gone to that party" or whatever. But if you knew that someone (esp. a first-aid-trained someone) had been there and had done everything in their power to save your loved one's life, and your loved one had died anyway, then it would be easier to believe that your presence/absence wasn't the deciding factor.

That's how it seems to me, anyway. If you take a first aid course, the trainer will probably do a better job of explaining it.

(This is the poignant part, there was also a part where they were really emphatic about how willing you need to be to break ribs. You gotta be UP FOR IT.)

it is being stressed to me I do not want my mannequin to end up with nice ribs in a coffin. I want them to wake up with broken ribs in hospital. ok!!! yep!!

the trainer: "ohhh I don't want to break their ribs because they're a cute little baby!! NO 🙅‍♀️ it's EFFECTIVE."

the trainer makes a deal, if you end up saving someone's life you gotta get in touch with her and she'll buy you one box of chocolates for every rib you broke

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #171 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

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