Training that counts
Because I regularly take groups of people on tours to other places and other countries, I always have to be prepared for any kind of emergency.
Emergencies of all kinds frequently arise. The emergencies that I am the most apprehensive about and have the greatest desire to handle well are the medical emergencies. Particularly emergencies where someone is either not breathing or going into cardiac arrest.
These are emergencies that I know I have to deal with quickly and sometimes all by myself. I will always have my partner, Alejandro, call for help. But occasionally we are in places where there is no cell phone signal or easy access to emergency help. In those cases, it falls to me and Alejandro to figure out what to do.
Since we often have guests that are older, I am always aware of the risks of them choking or not being able to breathe or going into cardiac arrest. I do try to screen all guests that come. We don’t take people that are high-risks for heart attacks.
When Emergencies Strike
But sometimes these things happen despite careful screening.
I have received my CPR and ACLS certification, so I am somewhat comfortable with how to handle someone who is exhibiting signs of cardiac distress.
Don’t misunderstand me; I’m no doctor and I’m not confident that I can save anyone. But at least, I have been through an ACLS training program, I’ve practiced, and I know what to do.
One time we were out with a group In the Bahamas. We had been on the cruise ship and we had a special excursion out to another island. This was an excursion just for our small group and I had to charter a small transport boat. It was bigger than a tender but obviously much smaller than the cruise ship.
We had gone to the island and spent a fabulous day. We were heading back to the cruise ship on the transport boat. I was relaxing with some guests, drinking a margarita and just casually looking around at all of the people that were on the boat.
I enjoy watching people enjoying themselves. I happened to notice a gentleman who was sitting down and not looking great. I watched him for a while just because he was the only one of the group that didn’t seem to be having fun. Guests pay me to give them a fun trip, so I pay attention to guests that aren’t looking happy!
CPR and ACLS: A Useful Skill
The longer I watched this gentleman, the more I started to become concerned. When he dropped his glass to the floor, I was by his side in two seconds.
From my ACLS training, I knew the signs of cardiac arrest, and this guy was definitely displaying them.
My own heart started thumping wildly as adrenaline flooded my veins. I deliberately took half a second, reached into my memory, and came up with the techniques I’d been taught. I positioned my hands over his chest and began the rhythmic downward pushes that I’d practiced over and over.
In the meantime, Alejandro was calling the cruise ship on our transport boat radio.
To make a long story short, the guy survived. I kept doing what I was doing until professional EMT guys came out two minutes later by helicopter. They practically fell out of the chopper onto our deck and sprang over to me.
One of the EMTs took over the heart pumps that I was doing and other got out the paddles. Between the two of them, they had the guy revived in pretty short order.
So, like I said, I always have to be prepared for emergencies in this business!