In addition to writing romance, I also spend my time teaching fitness classes; every once in a while I dedicate a blog post to topics involving exercise and health (my sporadic "Friday Fitness" series). This post, my 5th, is--and will continue to be--the most important.
I've been CPR certified for 30 years now. Sophomore year in high school, we had a full week-long unit in gym class, and I earned my first certification. Before that expired, I became a life guard at the local pool, and yearly recertification was mandatory. Following college, I began a part-time job as a fitness instructor, and CPR certification was also required for that. I've been teaching fitness classes nonstop for 23 years now, so I've had to update my certification almost yearly. I've spent countless Saturdays asking mannequins if they were okay. I've brought my husband along to training a few times. I've taken classes where I was the only member. And now I can look back and say every single second was well spent.
Because I saved my son. I'm only able to write about it now that a few months have gone by. One Friday night, my husband and I brought our younger son (age 11) and his friend to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner. We were enjoying our meal when suddenly my son began tugging on my arm. His eyes were wide, and he was clawing at his throat. He could not speak, and I know from my years of training that this dictates intervention. If a person cannot cough or talk, they are choking and they need immediate help.
In his panic, he stood up, and I jumped up as well. Without hesitation, I positioned myself behind him, placed my fist in the proper spot, and began the Heimlich maneuver. One thrust...two...three...and the piece of food flew out onto the table. The other diners were staring. The wait staff looked terrified. My son was crying. And my husband and I were in shock. And then the thoughts began tumbling through my brain. What if I didn't know the Heimlich? But I did. Years of practice had prepared me. But what if it hadn't worked? Thankfully, it did.
It's not an incident I like to think about. But I am so very, very grateful I knew what to do. And just the other day, in a class at our gym, a member had a seizure. It wasn't my class--I wasn't even there--but one of the class members was a nurse, and she handled the whole thing expertly. The young girl was transported to the hospital in an ambulance, breathing on her own. The episode was another reminder on the importance of knowing the basic life-saving techniques. If you've never taken a CPR certification course, I urge you to consider it. And if you are CPR certified, keep it up! While it's knowledge we all hope we never need, it's imperative to have it, just in case.