by Pat Worden
The Red Cross Acts of Courage Awards recognize regional heroes who under the most challenging circumstances acted with fortitude and determination to help save the lives of their fellow citizens. Now we’ll take a closer look at two of those heroes, and let them tell us in the own words how in an instant anyone can be tested to their core.
It was a school day, a lunchtime, just like any other. Eathan was sitting in the cafeteria, joking and laughing with his friends. Suddenly one of them, Eathan’s best friend Christian, began flailing in distress. His face turned red. Others seemed too shocked to intervene, but Eathan recognized that Christian was choking and jumped into action.
However, he’d never been trained to use the Heimlich maneuver. As strange as it seems, he recalled the poster hanging in his local Dairy Queen, which demonstrated the life-saving maneuver. That was all he needed.
“I knew I had to do something,” Eathan says. “I had to react. I wasn’t thinking anything, just that everyone froze, and I knew I had to help him.”
He dislodged the food stuck in Christian’s windpipe, saving his life.
“You shouldn’t hesitate to step in when you’re needed to. If you can help save someone, just do it. You won’t be sorry.”
It was supposed to be a pleasant Labor Day on the trails for Blake and Miranda Osborn. Blake was navigating their way to a little-used branch off the Glens Trail in Gorge Metropark to better enjoy the late summer day and to get a great view of the Cuyahoga River. Blake is uncommonly qualified for this sort of trailblazing, as a certified wilderness expert with advanced training as a rescuer and first responder.
Still, he was surprised to see a figure, far below the trail, sprawled on the rocks by the edge of the river. He shouted down, asking if the man needed help. The man responded “No,” but Blake noticed what looked like blood on the rocks. Deciding the man was injured and confused, Blake asked a nearby hiker to dial 911, then began making the dangerous descent down the hillside.
The man was bleeding badly from a gashed forehead and seemed to have injuries to his legs, which he’d later learn were two broken ankles. Blake began treatment, explaining more help was on the way and using his shirt to stop the bleeding head wound. He immobilized the man’s neck in case of a spinal injury then briefed responders from the fire department on their best routes of approach to plan the rescue. Concluding it’d be too risky to carry a stretcher back up the hill, a boat was dispatched to extricate the patient by way of the river.
Blake stayed with the man for more than two hours. Looking back, he says even people without his level of training can and should intervene if they suspect an emergency has occurred.
“Call 911 if something looks off, even if it turns out to be okay,” he explains. “Don’t ever try to treat someone without the proper training, but stopping the bleeding and keeping them still should be easy enough for someone without any training. I highly recommend readers take a CPR and first aid class at the very least, and a 20-hour Wilderness First Aid course if they plan to be in the back country often.”
Three tips for handling emergencies:
1) Always make sure the scene is safe and secure.
2) Remain calm.
3) Call 911 or ask a bystander to do so.
For more information on first aid and CPR training, contact the American Red Cross (330-535-6131) or the American Heart Association (330-664-1930).
Patrick Worden (Akron) is a former EMT and emergency medical dispatcher.
All photos courtesy of Clum Creative/American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties)