John and Robert had gone to the same high school. They had known each other since they were in 3rd grade. Though they had not seen each other in years they enjoyed talking at their 25th year High School Reunion.
John married Sarah when they were young, they had raised three beautiful children. He was a Fireman, his wife, an office worker. Robert was a lawyer, his wife, Susan, had stayed stayed home with their three kids, the first born when she was 26.
John and Sarah lived in a modest house a few blocks from the main road that went through their end of town. They spent a lot of time together, hiking, camping, playing ball. Robert and Susan lived in a big house on the mountain. Their kids went to private school, they traveled all over the world, belonged to the country club.
As the men started to talk, John noticed that Robert was fighting tears. John whispered to him, “Are you okay?” Robert shook his head “No.” and lead John away from the crowd. Five months ago, Robert and Susan had lost their 12 year old son. He was swimming in their pool and started having trouble breathing. They had quickly called 911, but it was 10 minutes before an ambulance arrived. The 911 caller wasn’t familiar with the location of the new road way up on the mountain in the wealthy suburb. In their fear, Susan had not made directions clear. She failed to stay on the phone with the 911 operator. By the time the ambulance arrived, their son was in cardiac arrest. An hour later, the doctor at the hospital came out and told Robert and Susan that they had done all they could, but their son hadn’t made it. It took an autopsy to find out that their son had an undiagnosed heart problem.
By that time, Robert was fighting tears too. He was a Fireman, an Emergency Medical Technician. When his oldest daughter was 16, she had suffered a seizure while running and playing ball in their yard. While her brother called 911, John had given her treatment for the seizure. He was trained in what to do. It was a close call, their daughter was breathing with snore-like gasps before John got her to respond and breathing again. By the time the ambulance got there, John’s daughter was conscious, resting on a lounge chair. She survived.
It had seemed that Robert and Susan had everything, a big house, socially popular, the perfect life they had dreamed of. John and Sarah had struggled to meet the bills, they lived in a neighborhood of older homes, safe, but nothing fancy.. They didn’t have much time for social activities. They were too tired after work anyway.
This is life. No matter how we try, things don’t always work out as we have planned. Money won’t buy back your child if no one is there to help them, and struggling to pay the bills or living in a small house may make families spend more time together, perhaps become closer.
My situation wasn’t like either of these, but a mixture of both. I was a mostly stay at home mom, my husband a blue collar worker, we had six beautiful healthy kids until one night, our 15 year old collapsed at a ball game without warning. Even though a fire department was in sight of the ball park, the parent who called 911 didn’t give proper directions or stay on the phone with the 911 operator. An ambulance was sent from downtown instead. It was 10-12 minutes before the ambulance arrived because it did not have proper directions. Our son was in cardiac arrest by the time he was loaded in the ambulance. He died because no one at the park knew what to do and help was so slow in arriving. Like the fictional Robert and Susan, our lives were ruined when we lost our son.
Many years ago, when I took a First Aid Course, I was taught not to give CPR if a patient was breathing. That nigh, a person who said they were a nurse came up to help us, but did not seem to know what to do. We lost our son, I lost my health and faith for nothing. There are no words for what our family has gone through.
I have one question, to which everyone of us would give the same answer. Which family would you rather belong to?
Please, listen to me!Get out and learn to do chest compressions, how to use a portable defibrillator, take a First Aid Course. You may save your child, your grandmother, a neighbor, a stranger. Don’t wait until it is too late, thinking that it won’t be you or your family. Contact Parent’s Heart Watch (www.parentsheartwath.com)or the local Red Cross to find out about current First Aid Courses. It could be you that saves a life.