I took a class today to get recertified in CPR. It’s something I have a tendency to let lapse for a year or two before finally getting to it. It’s amazing how the protocol has changed over the years. I was first certified at 16 as a part of lifeguard training. Not long after I had to use that skill twice with the old back press arm lift method. As it turned out, both victims lived. As the years passed I had to do CPR once more, this time using chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing. That victim died. It was a long time ago and I hope never to do it again, but the training is vital to being prepared.
Not only have CPR protocols changed, so has the equipment now available to those providing first aid. Your local Red Cross and most medical supply stores sell small collapsible face masks to aid in rescue breathing. At the same time there is now a much higher reliance on chest compression done rapidly for a long time than on rescue breathing. Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) analyze heart rhythm and instruct first aiders on when a shock is needed. Cell phones summon help from almost any location. Most communities are now served by paramedics who bring advanced life support services to the scene, or well trained EMTs who provide the best in basic life support. What a difference from the converted hearse with driver and marginally trained attendant that were the standards of my youth.
It seems to me that clergy especially ought to be able to perform CPR. After all, we encounter people at their worst and most vulnerable moments when they are under the greatest amount of stress. The parish from which I retired also has two AED units, one near the usher’s table and the other in the sacristy. May they never be used, but should the need arise, there are enough trained parishioners and staff to use them.
Here endeth the lesson.