Give Someone Else a Second Chance

t was a beautiful Saturday in September.  I had taken a 6 hour road trip to hold a certification course for personal trainers.   I hadn’t made concrete plans for the evening, but arrived back in time to head down to Ohio State campus to meet a few pals to watch the second half of the football game.

I knew the time on campus would be short (90 minutes or so), but for some reason, I felt compelled to battle the crowds and head down.  As expected, once I arrived, the game ended about 90 minutes later and after catching our favorite band play a song or two, we decided to go home.  I had uber’d down but a friend of mine offered to drive me home; she mentioned the car was parked about a mile away and we would all enjoy the walk on a warm fall night.

As we arrived to a parking lot 3/4 mile away from campus, I noticed a young man on his phone talking to 911, seemingly panicked.  I looked into the minivan he was next to and saw a man reclining back, seemingly lifeless.  Several of us jumped into the car immediately, to start helping.  We took turns checking for pulse, breath and providing compressions.  The man was a large man and we had three people trying to resuscitate him (all packed into a mini van.)

When someone took over compressions for me, I moved to sit by his head, and I placed my hand on his shoulder and started talking to him. While the man couldn’t speak, his eyes opened and locked into mine.  I was encouraged to think he could hear me, and so I continued to tell him that he would be ok, that he had a lot of people there to help him, and that he needed to hold on because he was still needed on this earth.    I kept my touch to his shoulder, because I wanted him to have a connection.  [In my work with my wishkids -I am a wishgranter for a wishgranting organization, I have had children go into comas, but still be able to hear us talk.  I know because as I would bring up certain topics, their heart would speed up with excitement or emotion.] I remembered that and knew I wanted to keep talking to the man in hopes it helped him stay connected to his will to survive.  He was unresponsive the entire 10-12 minutes we administered CPR.

Once the AED arrived, we pulled him out of the driver’s seat and to the ground and the electric defibrillation process began.    At that point, nurses, off-duty EMTs and other healthcare professionals arrived and I stepped back.  I really wanted to stay right next to him and keep talking to him, but I felt the least-skilled of all tending to him, so I made room so they could go to work.   I then stood there and wanted to watch and support with words, but realized if it were my dad, I wouldn’t want strangers staring at the scene during what was clearly a very emotional and potentially sad outcome.  As I stood next to a friend of mine and looked at the scene for a minute, she grabbed my arm and squeezed it, as if to say, ‘It’s going to be ok’.

So my friends and I turned to go, and I looked up and saw the squad that had been called was about 300 meters away – but going down the wrong street, in the wrong direction; so I started to run and yell and wave my arms in the air.  My purse dropped, my jacket fell off, and I kept running after the squad.  It didn’t see me.  I knew that this man needed that squad to arrive quickly and so I ran faster, and waved my arms higher.  The squad still didn’t see me.  But then, then something amazing happened.

All of the 100s of cars that were lined up and waiting to depart campus saw me running and saw the squad… at first, one person started to honk.  Then, another.  And within seconds, 50-60 cars were all honking repetitively to get the attention of the squad.  And, the squad stopped.   I ran up to it and pointed to the street it needed to go down to get to the man in need.  The squad rushed away and I saw it arrive to the man’s side within 30 seconds.

Once I arrived home, I spent the evening praying for that man, and crying.  Crying for many reasons.  Crying because I realized how precious life is… that man had been at a football game 20 minutes prior – with no thought that this would happen.  That boy may or may not ever have the chance to attend another football game with his dad.   I cried also, for the beautiful kindness of strangers… each person jumping in and playing a role to save another stranger’s life.  We each took turns, and communicated to help each other – from creating the pentameter beat for the compressions, to counting outloud, to checking breath and pulse…   And, I cried for the people in the cars who helped me flag down the squad by honking their horns.  They could have just looked the other way or focused on their radio, but instead, they noticed.  They noticed I needed help and they came to my rescue.

You see, we have the opportunity to stop, notice and help or honk  at any moment – or just keep going.  All-too-often, we have developed a sense of, ‘it’s not my business, I wouldn’t know how to help’ mentality.  But I was overwhelmed with the support of strangers, people taking notice and helping, and the love I felt as we all tried to save this man’s life.

I wish I could tell you how the story ends, but because I never learned his name, I am not able to check any status at the local hospitals.  So, I just have to trust that we did our very best to help him.

So, today, feeling a bit emotional, I was inspired to write this blog.  Not so much just to share the story, but to ask you for a favor.  Today, I want you to notice.  Notice others.  Pay attention to someone walking down the street.  Offer to help someone in need.  Even if something as simple as carrying groceries to their car for them.

You never know when you could help someone else.  You never know, in a moment’s time, how someone’s

entire world could change.  And, you never know how maybe, just maybe – you could be a part of what helps them to keep going.  I feel so honored that I had the opportunity to be a part of something that may have helped someone’s life for a better.  It is a PRIVILEGE to know CPR.  It is a privilege because it gives us the power to actually save someone’s life.  When we sit in training classes, sometimes, that doesn’t seem as real as it truly is.  WE CAN SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE!!!  WE CAN HELP TO GIVE THEM A SECOND CHANCE!  DON’T WE ALL WANT SECOND CHANCES IN LIFE!?

Make sure to know CPR.  In 20 years of having CPR certification, it was the first time I truly had the chance to use it.  And I was so grateful to know how to help in a moment’s time.  You can find CPR courses at your local Red Cross chapter.  I’ve also attached a small pictogram of hands-only CPR from the American Heart Association.

So today, commit with me to slow down and take notice of others.  Honk.  Help.  Support.  And remember that material goods may come and go, but people in our lives are the most powerful gifts.   Give someone else a second chance – whether it’s through a life saving effort, or by forgiving and letting go of the past.  Life is too short.  You never know anything more than this moment, so live into it powerfully and with love.

Julie Wilkes