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April 23, 2011

Meanwhile, in Mesa
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:30 PM * 24 comments

Mesa Fire Honors 9-Year-Old For Saving Sister’s Life

Brief version: Two-year-old goes missing, turns up in the backyard pool. Nine-year-old does CPR until the medics arrive. Happy ending and smiles all around. Nine-year-old gets tour of fire station and gets to wear a firefighter hat.

There’s video.

Point one: 9-1-1 got called early on. No matter how good your CPR is, you want to get help rolling sooner rather than later. The EMTs don’t mind responding to a situation that’s all better by the time they get there.

Point two: It’s almost impossible to do CPR wrong. Within certain very broad parameters, doing anything is better than doing nothing.

Point three: While we haven’t had the roll-out yet, compression-only CPR is coming; if you don’t feel comfortable giving breaths, don’t do ’em.

Point four: The nine-year-old learned how to do CPR by watching Black Hawk Down, an R-rated movie. Presumably he saw it with his parents, who discussed it with him afterward.

Point five: While you can learn CPR that way, most EMS you see in movies ranges from bad to very bad. Take a CPR class. Take a First Aid class.

Point six: Summer’s coming. Drownings happen. Vigilance, folks.


I am not a physician. I can neither diagnose nor prescribe. This post is presented for entertainment purposes only. Nothing here is meant to be advice for your particular condition or situation.

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Comments on Meanwhile, in Mesa:
#1 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 07:14 PM:

I'm glad for removing the breathing necessity, though my asthma is rather better than it was when I first tried to take CPR training.

At the time, I had to quit mid class because doing the full blown CPR with the breathing would have made me the victim rather than resuciAnnie. (I got about two minutes in and then MY breathing started getting 'tight'.)

#2 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 09:18 PM:

The new standard still has breaths for trained responders who are equipped and willing. The biggest change is starting compressions without verifying an open airway. Don't delay care while you're trying to figure things out, get moving. Breathing emergencies turn into cardiac emergencies pretty quickly. If you have been trained, continue to adhere to your standard of training until you have been trained in the new standard. The differences are minor, and some states' Good Samaritan laws specifically refer to training.

I will teach to the old standard on Tuesday, and we to the new standard starting May 1st. (I teach for the Red Cross, the standard (ECC 2010) is used by essentially everyone. The Red Cross does have a few differences in protocol vs. the American Heart Association, nothing major).

ECC 2010 Adult Basic Life Support from the American Heart Association

#3 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 12:19 AM:

most EMS you see in movies ranges from bad to very bad.

CPR in movies and on TV pretty much has to be bad unless you've got nothing else to spend the special-effects budget on -- it's not safe to do the real thing to people who aren't mostly dead.

#4 ::: Heather K ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 12:24 AM:

That reminds me, I need to recert in CPR. I think I've finally trained myself out of doing a neck lift to open the airway I originally learned CPR in the 1970s; it's a hard habit to break.

#5 ::: CZEdwards (aka the Other Constance) ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 02:53 AM:

Residential in-ground pools in Maricopa county have required fences and auto-lock gates since 2003 for new construction. Retrofit hasn't caught up.

This incident happened a couple miles from my Mom's house (developed in the late 80s/early90s when pools were practically standard); when we first moved to Mesa in 1984, there was at least two fatal drownings a month in summer. That's improved with 20+ years of awareness and better training, but 6 foot steel bar fences, gates and other forms of access control are the best preventative.

#6 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 06:55 AM:

CZEdwards, I'm not sure there's been all that much improvement. A graph from a 2007 Arizona study of drownings in the Phoenix metro varied from 105 in 1994 to 96. The high and low numbers for that period were 134 and 75. But the 105 and 96 numbers were much more typical.

So approximately two drownings per week, but most take place during the summer months when pools are in use. Which makes watching local news on TV pretty depressing.

You can almost fill out a prepared script for those reports, just changing the age and sex of the child (most drownings are in the 1-4 years-old range), the location, whether they were discovered by family, babysitters, or neighbors, and how many minutes estimate they were underwater.

#7 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 06:56 AM:

Access control helps.

Swimming lessons help. Not just the dinky stuff so the kid can swim across a pool, but the basic rescue training. The drill for throwing a flotation device means that a very little kid has a reasonable chance to save someone much larger.

And it also helps keep the kid safe. Good swim training will help drill in the buddy system. And it will cut down on the odds that a kid tries to climb the fence or do something else stupid to get around the access controls.

#8 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 09:03 AM:

I had training in the new CPR system last September (Medic Aid-based training, done through the local volunteer fire department). The instructor also was pretty firm about all-out practice.

I do prefer the MedicAid courses to the Red Cross classes. The paramedics tend to be a bit more hands-on as opposed to the kids who've not seen as much which is what the local Red Cross tends to hire. Now if I were really into it, I'd probably try to find out what the Ski Patrol teaches and learn that (don't ski fast enough to qualify for Patrol, getting up there in years so I probably can't handle a toboggan, not that I'd be that good at a toboggan at 115 lbs).

#9 ::: Dave H ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 09:03 AM:

I've been seeing billboards for compression-only CPR in Rochester, NY for a few months now. I don't rememeber who's sponsoring the boards though. I don't think it's the Red Cross.

#10 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 09:05 AM:

And, since nobody's yet mentioned it, there's also so-called "dry drowning".

#11 ::: Holli ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 10:16 AM:

I took a CPR/first aid class week before last, and we were taught compression-only, if that's a useful data point.

During the wound care portion, I found myself getting a bit light-headed at some of the pictures. Which is odd, as blood in real life has yet to faze me.

#12 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 11:18 AM:

Dammit, I forgot to sign up for first aid and CPR class at the Red Cross this month. I have to do that. It was on the calendar and everything.

Also need to learn it for kids and infants, which is a separate class.

#13 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 12:01 PM:

Holli @11:
What organization issued your certificate, and what did they call it? (professional curiosity) I think the Red Cross now has a non-certification class that has compression only, and I expect that our chapter's Restaurant Emergency class will show compression only, the focus is on conscious choking.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward @8:
The National Ski Patrol main medical course is called Outdoor Emergency Care, and has just been revised (but I don't have my teacher material yet). They are their own certification agency. There are non-skiing roles at most Patrols, ask around. Classes are frequently taught in the spring or summer. They also require American Heart Association or Red Cross CPR for the Healthcare Provider.

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 12:39 PM:

re wound pictures: Blood/trauma in real life doesn't bother me. Photos do, descriptions can.

This is part of why I never wanted to be a medic. I am pretty good one, as needed, but the training is mentally exhausting, and physically taxing.

#15 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 09:05 PM:

Holli @11: Anecdotally, I had something similar happen to me. When I was 14, I volunteered at a veterinary hospital*, which included getting to watch surgeries. During one (cleaning up a hematoma in an ear, I think), I got light headed and had to leave. This freaked me out for a number of reasons, one being I'd never reacted that way before. The vet's response was "it happens sometimes," and I haven't had that response to blood since.

*I thought I wanted to be a vet, which lasted until about mid-way through my bachelor's, which is why I have a BS in BS.

#16 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 09:20 AM:

Blood bothers me, particularly if it's mine. I still regard basic first aid training as something almost everyone should get. Adrenaline can get me through situations that I wouldn't want described to me, but it's knowledge that might have me doing something useful.

#17 ::: Amy ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 10:27 AM:

Re: drowning statistics--if that's for the whole metro area, it may represent a per-capita decrease. The population has increased quite a bit since the mid-90's.

#18 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 12:10 PM:

Re: lightheadedness -- I do just fine seeing blood as long as I don't know the victim. The closest I've come to fainting was watching an Urgent Care MD stitch up a gash my partner acquired (license tag on a parked car -- who knew those things had sharp edges?).

I did manage not to faint -- but I'm sure the doctor saw me turn green. I snagged a stool and sat down while he finished the procedure. Jan said I even made a joke -- but I cannot remember what I said...

#19 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 12:10 PM:

Here in California, the law about proper fencing for pools applies when a property is sold, and locks on the back door don't count.

I deliberately did not want a pool because of that nightmare. It's just not worth it. And the kids are getting swimming lessons once they're out of diapers.

#20 ::: ADAM LIPKIN ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 01:49 PM:

I heard an ad for compression-only CPR this weekend. I want to sy it was on WFNX, but it could also have been while in a store at some point.

#21 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2011, 05:52 PM:

Amy #17: drowning statistics.

A 2009 Arizone DHS report for all of Maricopa County(PDF) gives rates of "life threatening pool incidents" per 100,000 children aged 0-4 (figure 3, p11). It shows a dramatic decrease in 1990 from 60 to 40 per 100,000, then a slow downwards trend to a current (up to 2009) level of 10-15 per 100,000.

It really is improving, just not fast enough.

#22 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2011, 07:54 AM:

Blood from minor cuts or scrapes doesn't bother me. I got dizzy the first time I observed a veterinary surgery, but when I actually assisted at one, I was totally fine.

I conclude that as long as I'm performing some kind of first aid task, I'm likely to be fine. My analytical mind takes over and lets me set aside "Oh God, that looks bad, that must really hurt, what if that were me?"

Other knds of bodily fluids don't squick me as long as I have gloves (and other appropriate PPE). Unless they smell so bad as to trigger my gag reflex. Then I breathe through my mouth.

#23 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 05:04 PM:

Dumb question for the first responder: Which of your posts would be most applicable to a situation like a tornado? Or to the Tuscaloosa tornados?

#24 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 05:25 PM:

Trey, I've been meaning to write something up on that.

For the moment, Jump Kits is most appropriate.

See also, Real Emergency Preparedness and Tips For an Apocalypse.

A non-survivable situation is just that. Distance = safety. What you can grab in fifteen seconds is what you've got.

A friend reports that she lives 1,000 feet from one of the F4/F5 touch-downs. And what she'd do differently would be have a jump kit and take it with her to the shelter, because there's no guarantee that anything will be left when you go back home. Having the supplies to operate for two or three days would be a Good Thing.

She's quite methodical; I believe that she's in the process of building the kit, if it isn't already built.

My kits are: Small, light, cheap, and strapped to your body. When you go hide in the closet, the kit comes with you.

A good weather radio is a darned good idea. I really like the Midland WR300 Weather Radio. You want something with S.A.M.E. technology.

A plan formed in your mind is a must.

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