My wife and I recently watched the movie Sully and I was in tears for most of the movie. I know, I’m a sap, but I’m also a sucker for a real life hero. For those of you who don’t know, Sully, is about Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who landed US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River back in 2009. It’s an epic tale of heroism, commitment, and code. It also got me thinking about why I was so emotional. There’s nothing like it when someone does a good deed and they help others along the way. Obviously, this was an extreme case, but it begs the question, are you ready to rescue?
This might sound crazy, but sometimes I think about catastrophes. What would happen if there was a tsunami in Malibu? It would be devastation for thousands of people. Humbly speaking, I know I’d be one of the strongest people around helping to swim, hike, bike, run, or do whatever was necessary to save lives. In extreme situations my tendency is to run to the problem not away from it. Maybe it’s because my mom always taught me to help anyone in need. But I realize that all my running, biking, swimming, and training would be very useful during a catastrophic event. I hope nothing like that ever happens, but there are other events to be ready for.
While we were visiting family in New York, we decided to have dinner with a friend. He’s yet to meet our little 9 month old, so it was fun to introduce them. We went to a local burger joint, and Madison had some mashed up carrots that mommy prepared. She’s just learning how to eat solids and this was the perfect time to feed her. At this age she’s only eating pureed foods and once in a while she chokes because she’s eating too fast or hasn’t quite swallowed her last spoonful.
This time around it was quite different. Madison was sitting in her high chair, my wife was feeding her and she began to choke. This time though, during a choking moment, she couldn’t actually catch her breath. Now I know, at this age, kids can hold their breath for about 7 seconds under water, but I wasn’t looking to test any theories here. Once she was unable to find her breath I jumped up, pulled her out of her seat, wrapped my arm around her and gave her a baby Heimlich maneuver. At the same time, my wife took her finger and scraped the back of little Madison’s little throat. Sure enough there was a few very small pieces of carrot and maybe too much food for one spoonful. After Madison coughed up what was stuck in her throat, she took a breath, and went about her business as if nothing happened.
My friend was amazed that we stayed calm as we almost watched our little one suffocate from carrots. But as alert parents, we were at the ready for a rescue. This also reminded me of a time when I was babysitting my little brother. He was about 3 years old and I was about 14. He stopped breathing as well. I grabbed him, held him over the toilet bowl and gave him the Heimlich. All I heard was ting ting ting, the sound of a nickel fall into the toilet. The poor little guy could’ve choked to death. Once the nickel was dislodged, he went about his business like any other 3 year old. I was on the floor freaking out because I realized I may have just saved my brother’s life.
What would you do? Are you the kind of person who suffers from Bystander Syndrome? Would you stand around and watch or would you run away? Would the coward in you come out in full force or would you step up like a man? I think it’s a very valid question, especially in our current divided society, and all the not so random acts of violence. Life is great about throwing us the unexpected and I’ve always said, “It’s never what happens to us in life, it’s how we deal with what happens to us.” So take a moment and see yourself in a difficult situation, then visualize yourself doing the right thing.
I implore you to learn CPR and at least the basics of first aid. I encourage you to get stronger so you can be the one people to turn to when physical strength and emotional support is needed. Plan to be a hero like Sully. He was just a guy who was doing his job and an opportunity came along. He was training for life. Will you be ready when that time comes along? I hope I am.