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Taking care of emergency business

Barry Smith

“I am medically trained. I can take care of you.” According to the first aid course that I just took, that’s what I’m supposed to say whenever I see someone in need of medical assistance. “I am medically trained. I can take care of you.” Now, I feel pretty good about my basic first aid skills, seeing as I just finished the class about a month ago, but I don’t know about going around saying that I’m “medically trained.” Apparently, though, this is the magic statement that somehow relieves you of any legal responsibility should you rush in to help someone and end up doing a real hack job of it, like applying a neck tourniquet too tight or something.(NOTE: The neck tourniquet, though used above as a punch line, is a serious medical procedure and should only be attempted by qualified IRS agents.)When I was a teenager I was in a furniture store with my dad, and I was watching this little kid play. At one point, he hit his noggin pretty hard on the corner of a table and he started in on the silent screaming routine and started running, presumably towards his parents. A few steps later he collapsed backwards in the middle of the floor. There were about four adults standing around him, and they all freaked when this kid hit the deck.”My God! He’s choking!” a man yelled, and snatched the kid up and started shaking him like a rag doll.Then everyone started yelling. “Whose kid is this?””Get him upside down!””Raise his arms!””Have him drink a glass of water upside down through a Kleenex!”People were yelling and flailing every which way, while this poor kid was being jerked around like he’d been thrown to a pack of dingos.I knew he wasn’t choking, but everything was happening so quickly that I didn’t have time to say a word. Suddenly the father appeared:”It’s OK,” he yelled, wresting his son from the grip of the man who was doing the Heimlich tug-of-war with him. “He’s a breath-holder.” The kid came to, took a deep breath, and commenced to screaming, much to everyone’s initial relief. That event cemented for me the helplessness that I have since felt whenever I’m in the presence of an emergency. Throughout the ordeal, which probably lasted no more than 45 seconds, no one, NO ONE, said, “I’m medically trained. I can take care of you.”But now I am. Medically trained, that is. And I can take care of you.As much as I don’t look forward to ever having to use my new catchphrase, it certainly is better than the ones I previously used in emergencies:”I’m potty trained. I can take care of you.””I once had a train. A choo choo train. When I was a kid. I can take care of you.””I’m journalistically trained. I can’t take care of you, but I can write something about someone else taking care of you.”Or, my usual …”I’m medically incompetent. Please don’t bleed around me!”But those days are behind me, and I have the wallet card to prove it. If you are choking on a big hunk of burger, you would do well to have me around. If your ticker gives out, I’m your guy. If you lop your hand off in wood shop, no problemo. Heat stroke? I’ll stay cool. Laceration? No skin off my nose. Decapitation? I’ll keep a calm head on my shoulders.(NOTE: Although I’ve once again rather irresponsibly chosen to use a serious medical situation as a punch line, decapitation should not be taken lightly, as it can be a fatal condition if not treated promptly and thoroughly by someone with a lot of medical diplomas on their wall. Please be prepared to show proof of insurance.)Got a boo boo? I am medically trained. I can take care of you. God help you.(Next time: “I’m metaphysically trained. Please take care of me.”)


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