Just imagine, for a moment, that you are sitting in your office conducting your normal daily business when you hear the sound of someone falling. You look out your door and see a coworker on the floor suffering from a heart attack. Would you know what to do? Chances are, dialing 911 probably would not be enough to ensure the survival of the victim. According to the American Heart Association Web site, “cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation, within the first three to five minutes after collapse, plus early advanced care, can result in high (greater than 50%) long-term survival rates” for heart attack victims. That amount of time, about three to five minutes, is very short, considering how long it may take for help to arrive. You have to know what to do and be able to act quickly.
Heart Attacks Happen Most people think that such a scenario is a remote possibility. However, a little more than four months ago, this situation played out at Bayview Limousine in Seattle. An administrative staff member suffered a heart attack in the office. Luckily, it was mild and CPR was not needed. But it was definitely a wake-up call. According to Bayview CEO Rob Hansen, “It got us thinking, what a tragedy it would be if someone had a severe heart attack and nobody knew what to do.” That is when Steve Mulligan, Bayview business development manager, “stepped up and volunteered” not only to receive training to perform CPR, but also to become an instructor. This is a skill that Hansen hopes will not be needed, but he says, “it always pays to be prepared.”
As providers of transportation for hire, it is our responsibility to be prepared for any situation. I have heard many chauffeurs protest that these situations are rare and could never happen to them. But with heart disease being the number one cause of death in the U.S. today, combined with the staggering number of passengers using the services of professional transportation companies on a daily basis, the chances of encountering this situation are rising. We have seen some instances in the news: In November 2001, a taxi driver in Kentucky saved a passenger’s life using CPR. In February 2003, a Virginia bus driver trainee saved a pedestrian. There are many other examples of people surviving a heart attack because an ordinary person took the time to learn life-saving techniques.
AEDs Are User-Friendly Another way a company could prepare for these types of emergencies is to keep automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on hand and to have all personnel trained in their use. AEDs are used during cardiac arrest to provide a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm. They are relatively easy to use, and they provide visual and audio instruction to prompt the user. The new portable AEDs are a little over seven pounds and a little larger than a first aid kit, so they can be kept both in the office and in vehicles. (Prices start around $699.)
The chauffeured transportation industry strives to provide excellent customer service, and clients and employees alike hope that an emergency never arises. But if and when someone experiences a heart attack, you can be prepared. The investment you make in training and equipment could save someone’s life, and your willingness to be prepared shows employees and clients that you are committed to their safety.
CPR Saves Lives According to statistics, there are over 1.1 million heart attacks each year, and about 460,000 are fatal. For about half of that number, death occurs within an hour from the onset of the symptoms. In over 50% of those cases, administering CPR can save around 115,000 people within the first three-to-five minutes.
Since drivers and managers work with many clients and often in public areas, there is a possibility that they’ll encounter someone having a heart attack in the course of doing business. By learning CPR, you can substantially increase the chances of survival for a heart attack victim.
The American Red Cross offers a variety of safety-related courses, including Adult CPR and Infant and Child CPR. Contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information. To find out the location nearest you, log onto www.redcross.org or contact the national headquarters at (202) 303-4498.