Since re-certifying in Standard First Aid/CPR last November and upgrading to begin my pathway to become a bona fide Instructor with The Canadian Red Cross, I’ve already put my “First-Aider” knowledge to work in TWO emergency situations! They weren’t in response to the ultimate disaster- a nuclear war- but it’s a start.
Why is a comedian and former game show host training to be a First Aid Instructor, you ask? Well, for one, I’m genuinely committed to helping people and saving lives if it ever comes to it. Aaaaaannnnnnnd I’ve also created an entertaining and informative “Disaster Party”. More on that later; for now, back to the stories of blood and gore from the trenches of an amateur first responder!
For context, I want to mention that early in my training, a friend of mine had prognosticated that if I “put it out to the Universe” that I was preparing for the Apocalypse, I just might get what I ask for. I guess she was partly right, although I would hardly categorize the two situations in which I provided First Aid assistance calamitous in nature.
I should also admit that there were two OTHER emergencies I came across after finishing my training where I DIDN’T jump into action. They were both traffic accidents and, (my excuse was), I saw that other people were already providing assistance. Pangs of guilt haunted me after both events for not having stopped anyway, to ensure someone on the scene had First Aid training. I just kept driving- I was guilty of the classic “Bystander Effect”. So, I was determined to not “freeze” the next time I saw anyone who seemed to be in distress. I wasn’t hoping for it, and I had no idea how long it might be before my knowledge would be put to the test. Then it happened.
Walking home from grocery shopping in my neighbourhood- two women; one trying to hold the other upright; their dog barking. It was a service dog, and the younger woman was having an epileptic seizure. I immediately ran to them, dropped my bags and ensured the woman experiencing convulsions made it safely to the ground. She recovered in less than 60 seconds and I knew from my training that it wasn’t necessary to call 9-11 unless the seizure lasted longer than two minutes, or she was injured in any way. They were grateful for my help and we all went our separate ways; me- beaming with pride. I almost forgot my groceries. And they were the pricey organic kind!
I wouldn’t say my wife was impressed, as much as she was relieved. Now she wouldn’t have to listen to me agonizing about the two car accidents I failed to attend. Julie has started using the nickname “Doomsday” for me. Lovingly; mildly concerned with my obsessiveness about impending disaster. “What rabbit hole have you gone down this morning, Doomsday?” is her daily query as she finds me on the couch scrolling the news and social media.
In the last six months I have assembled a full home Emergency Kit in our basement, with various supplies and food and water to last our family for 72 hours in the event of a power outage, and/or the need to “Shelter In Place”.
I have put together a Go Bag with a complement of supplies, necessities, emergency documents, food and water, etc… that is ready to be taken with us if we have to quickly “Bug Out”.
I have also created my own “Mini Go Bag” in a tactical waist pack that includes over 25 items that you might require should you be forced to find shelter for an extended period of time when you’re away from your home. I believe you should have one of these under your desk at work right now.
I have another one as part of our Car Kit; along with road flares, a folding shovel, blankets, tarp, bungee cords, booster cables, hand and feet warmers and, dangling from the rear view mirror, an emergency seat belt cutter and window breaker.
“Stop buying stuff online! What’s in the box that arrived today!?”
Julie has been keeping a rough tabs on my expenditures. She’s not far off. I don’t think I’ll be able to get away with buying a family AED, (Artificial External Defibrillator), as they’re about $1,500. But, I do make a point of scoping out where the nearest AED is any time I’m in unfamiliar territory. Plus, there are two items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that I carry with me in a small pouch at all times: a CPR face barrier for Rescue Breaths and a pair of nitrile gloves.
I love being able to say that in my eight years of playing hockey, my “gloves have never come off”, but in my first few months as a First-Aider, the gloves have already come on. More on that in a moment; for now, let me startle you with just a few worrisome facts.
-According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, there are over 16,300 nuclear weapons possessed by nine nations in the world today.
-For the first time since the Cold War ended in 1991, air raid sirens to warn of a nuclear missile attack were brought back into operation by the state of Hawaii. That initiative, unfortunately, resulted in an infamous false alarm in January 2018, but it’s the thought that counts.
-In the Spring of 2017, Canadian and U.S. officials quietly held exercises to practice dealing with worst-case nuclear scenarios, running through simulated attacks on both sides of the border; we are practicing for nuclear holocaust!
-And #Dotard and #LittleRocketMan have exchanged menacing public threats, related to the size of their “buttons”, about actually using their horrific nuclear weapons; the former being the nickname awarded to the “leader of the free world”, who freely words his apocalyptic intentions against other nations via Twitter. Wtf!
Antagonistic nuclear threats by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, combined with events such as the Vegas shooting, white supremacist rallies (one having a deadly outcome), massive refugee crises in response to ethnic cleansing and an apparent spike in the number and intensity of natural disasters have had my anxiety levels peaking and diving like I was trading Bitcoin and PotStock on a Samsung Galaxy S7 while flying a seaplane in a hurricane. Oh, and btw, the North and South poles are currently threatening to flip, causing a chaotic global geomagnetic reversal. But, that’s just a random fixed cost of doing business here on planet Earth that happens every 40,000 years, or so.
Anywhoo- instead of hiding indefinitely in a subterranean bunker (yet to be constructed) I decided to take positive action based on my new mantra: “If sh*t goes down, and I survive, I’m here to help”. This has resulted in many of my friends calling me a “Prepper”. Frankly, as opposed to “Doomsday”, or “Prepper”, I prefer “Alarmist”.
That brings me to my “gloves on” moment: finding Sean from Rochester, NY, flat on his back, panicked, unable to catch his breath, or move his legs and arms. I was on a business trip to the Hard Rock Resort & Casino in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, (life is good, after all). I was on my way to the fitness centre when I spotted a commotion ahead of me in the corridor.
Sean’s friend was kneeling by his side; a few resort staff hovering. Without hesitation, I asked if someone had called 9-11. The resort medic had been paged, (9-11! Duh, we were in the DR!). Sean, from his back, asked if was a doctor. “No. But, I used to be a licensed taxi driver on TV”. I missed that beat. I was too excited; not in a fun way; but in a “keep calm and help this Dude out” way. I told him I was trained in First Aid and asked if he wanted my help.
It turns out that he had slipped, banged his head and blacked out momentarily. He was just starting to feel his feet again and he described his arms and hands as being “on fire”. He was afraid to move, but, at the same time, really wanted to get up so that he knew he wasn’t paralyzed. He was having trouble catching his breath. I didn’t want him to hyperventilate, or go into shock.
I instructed him to stay put and calmly got his breathing under control using a progressive relaxation technique; one that I learned as part of the online course with the Red Cross and from writing my one-man show about “a guy who unexpectedly has to teach a prenatal class and is surprised by what he delivers.”
While there wasn’t any blood visible from what I figured may have been a mild concussion, I decided to be certain, and examined him for a head injury. The gloves didn’t quite make that “snapping” sound you hear in the comedy movies when a guy is about to get a prostate exam. But, it was still exhilarating for me to actually be putting them on my hands in an emergency situation for the first time. I was particularly thrilled that I wasn’t doing so in order to perform a prostate exam on Sean, (or anyone else for that matter).
In the end, no open wounds. It was about another 5 minutes before the Resort medic arrived; I told her what had happened and informed Sean he was in good hands before heading off to do my workout; (like I still needed to get my heart rate up!).
After my workout I called my wife back in Toronto, bursting at the seams to describe to her my feat of heroism.
“You took your CPR thing and gloves to Punta Cana?! And had them in your pocket on the way to the gym?! You’re a FREAK! Don’t tell anyone that story!!!”
I found out later that when she recounted the story of my adventures in Hard Rock Resort disaster prevention to our teenaged son, she could barely breathe herself because she was laugh-crying so hard. Had I been there beside her, I would have been ready to assist in the event that the hilarity caused her to become unconscious.
It doesn’t matter that people (including my wife) think I’m a bit too extreme. I may very well be. I am. I certainly hope I’m never in a situation where I need to try and save someone’s life, or have to hide in a basement for three days to avoid gamma radiation emitted by potentially fatal fission products as nuclear fallout disperses. At the same time, I also hope I can persuade you to be more proactive when it comes to your safety and the safety of those around you. If I could only find a way to do so in an entertaining and informative format!
Oh, yeah! There’s that whole “Disaster Party” thing I mentioned above. I’ve been testing out my interactive content at dinner parties, (including a Super Bowl party), and leadership retreats. I’ve created an engaging quiz competition, breakout groups for role-playing various scenarios and practical, fun instruction on how to increase your chances of survival when responding to the ultimate disaster- a nuclear missile attack!
My intention, if you were to attend one of my parties, is not to convince you to build a bunker. But, maybe you will finally assemble that Home Emergency Kit, Go Bag, and Car Kit; or get one of my custom Mini Go Bags. Ideally, you’ll also visit www.redcross.ca and get your First Aid quals up to date. At the very least, the next time you’re walking home with your groceries, you’ll feel more prepared to quickly offer a little help to an appreciative mom out for a stroll with her daughter and service Poodle.
See you in the trenches!