Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

The week after I earned my senior lifesavi...

The week after I earned my senior lifesaving badge I was helping with recreational swimming at a 4-H camp. Before I came out of the dressing room, the other life guard had made a rescue. A boy dived in and bumped heads with a swimmer passing under the diving board.

Two weeks later I was watching a family playing with a limp inner tube in chest deep water. The father said, “Watch this!” and he pushed from the bottom and went head foremost through the hole in the tube. Everyone laughed because his feet caught and the limp tube twisted around them. I ran to make my first rescue but the man finally got his feet untangled and came up, gasping for air. That day I began to read drowning reports and to ask myself, “What could I have done to prevent that?”

A little girl, visiting her grandparents south of Columbia, became entangled in a heavy cord with which she was playing. Her grandmother found her hanging by the rope around her neck. The child was unconscious and her skin had turned blue because she could not breathe. The woman screamed for help and her husband called the fire department. She put the little child’s body on the dining room table, face up, and began to stretch the arms back and forward. She kept this up until the firemen arrived 10 or 15 minutes later. Apparently this stretching created a feeble exchange of air because the firemen successfully revived the child, rushed her to the hospital and she had no permanent damage.

The grandfather’s quick call to and the grandmother’s frantic efforts saved the child’s life. The dining table treatment is not recommended! Perhaps the woman had read something about resuscitation?

My very old encyclopedia explains artificial respiration this way: By compressing the ribs, the chest cavities are diminished forcing foul air out ... Releasing that compression causes the ribs to bound back. That allows the chest cavities to enlarge and air is sucked in to prevent a vacuum.

When I first took senior lifesaving, in 1933, we were taught to say, “Out goes the bad air, in comes the good air” to help establish a rhythm of 12 compressions per minute. That’s a simple way to remember what the writer of that 1886 encyclopedia article advised.

Today is the day to contact American Red Cross, Boy Scouts, the American Heart Association, YMCA or other agency and enroll in a class to learn artificial respiration. As I see it, a good choice is to learn all of the Heimlich maneuvers. “Heimlich I” is designed to dislodge something from the wind pipe. “Heimlich II ” is appropriate for a person near death from drowning. It is performed with the victim down on his back with his head to the side so water can be expelled. Henry Heimlich, a retired chest surgeon, also devised techniques for reviving infants and others.

How soon must these chest compressions be started? Immediately! Revival chances are good if artificial breathing is begun within the first three minutes after natural breathing stops. Chances diminish rapidly after that. The message is: Get the training at once! And if you don’t, if the body is blue, do something until trained help arrives. That grandmother saved the life of a precious child.

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