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Boom, boom, boom

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Boom, boom, boom. My hands pressed down powerfully on his chest as I played a viola solo in my head to keep rhythm. I paused for a moment and delivered two rescue breaths, then went back to my labor. Boom, boom, boom. He would surely come around soon.

As I stocked latex gloves in the Emergency Room one Sunday as a part of my volunteer work, I was suddenly trampled by nurses and technicians running into every storage room and pulling out equipment I had never seen. As they raced around, they called out to each other about the case that was on the way. “Young female …a hanging…think it was an attempted suicide…CPR in progress,” I heard as I dodged people left and right. As everyone piled into the trauma room and the last machine was in place, the EMTs arrived with the patient. One ran alongside the stretcher delivering CPR. I recognized how lucky I was to be so immersed in the medical field at such a young age, and I tried to soak up as much as I could. In the months that I have been volunteering at St. Francis, I had never seen the trauma team so on its game.

Boom, boom, boom. Matt’s steady hands worked as I never saw them work before. He pressed down on her chest and it caved in as if it were rubber, so much like the dummy’s had for me two years earlier during CPR training. Boom, boom, boom. This was physical exertion to the extreme. Another technician used a bag valve mask to deliver oxygen to her suffocating body. My own heart skipped a beat every time I saw her chest rise and fall, believing that they had finally saved her, that she was going to survive, then realizing that it was just fabricated life.

My latest discovery is that no matter how much a person knows about something from a classroom setting, it means nothing if he or she does not have practical experience. When I learned CPR, it was in a comfortable setting; I was with my friends and we were probably looking forward to the coming weekend and making plans to see each other. Chest compressions and rescue breaths given to a dummy in the school gym were just a small part of our day, but would be the most important element of it if they were being performed on a real person. Even though I am CPR certified, I recognize that it would be extremely difficult for me to perform in an actual emergency on someone who might die without me.

Next, I hope to learn how to make the transition from books and classrooms to practical learning. I realize now more than ever that there is a huge chasm between the two, and I know that to bring my education to the next level I will have to cross it.




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