Need A Penny? Take A Penny. Got Life? Save A Life.

Tragedy hits.  What do you do?  Freeze or take action?

I tend to jump in, wanting to help.  More than most anything else, I thrive on feeling useful;  it gives meaning to my life.  A gimme-the-reins kind of person, I prioritize well, delegate easily, and know to apply direct pressure when the blood starts to spurt ( a scary story I’ll save for another time).  However, I’m not really trained in the finer points of crisis management;  in many life-threatening emergencies, apart from dialing 9-1-1, I am often helpless.

Once when my nephew was very small, he had something in his mouth and I feared he might be choking.  I was nearly paralyzed, except to run to my sister, whose pragmatic nature would surely take over.  He was fine, she was fine, it was me who panicked.  I just couldn’t think my way through the fear, because he is so beloved to me.  What I needed was a skill set to fall back on, a clear set of steps to follow so that I could accurately assess and manage a traumatic situation, and keep those pesky emotions at bay.  I needed emergency training.

A friend who lived in New York City on 9/11 metabolized that disaster in a similar manner.  She didn’t just want to be of general service, donating money or time, she targeted a specific goal and became EMS-trained.  No small response, it was an honorable and inspired action.  Her commitment to civic duty surfaced in my memory this past autumn when I saw a man dying in Central Park.  (Read about it here.)  Afterwards, I vowed to learn first aid and CPR, so being a mere bystander wouldn’t be an option anymore.  While my instincts to jump in are strong, I needed competency to be effective.

This discovery of duty, of harboring a strong sense of social responsiblity surprised me.  Duty had never surfaced before;  in fact, besides the military and medical fields, duty seems to rub up against the rugged individualism of the United States psyche.  Where does it otherwise reside in such modern democracy?   To each their own, problems and all, right?  Well, my evolution from dependent child to (sometimes too) independent adult has been bumpy, and I’m happily embracing a new relationship with my inner citizen.  So, this past weekend I followed through, turning my vow into action and became CPR/AED-certified, the first of many steps to lead a more politically engaged and community-minded life.  Oh, how many others have gone before.

Now, I can approach someone in distress and offer trained help.  I am capable of opening someone’s blocked airway, breathing for someone when they can’t, keeping a heart pumping and if necessary, even use a defibrillator.  When someone chokes, suffers a stroke or heart attack, or just needs comfort until the medical professionals arrive and do the real work, I am prepared.  I just hope it never comes to that.


Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. CAR

     /  1 February 2011

    When I read your word “Duty” I felt the word “Love” and then this sequence of quotes fell into line
    1st: The MLK quote you shared earlier on this blog “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    2nd: “When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.”
    — Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms)

    Feels like falling in love

    • Kellie

       /  1 February 2011

      CAR~ Must be all those ‘opening the heart’ yoga poses I’ve been doing, because love is expanding in all directions for me.
      BTW, you’re incredible.

  2. Congrats on getting certified. I have gone through the certification a couple of times but thankfully have never had to use it. I know what you mean about a lack of duty that people in this country have. I myself was one of them, but now I am trying to turn it all around and use my community as a stepping stone. I hope you never have to use your new skills, I hope no one ever does need to use those skills, but I think it is great that there are people out there like you ready to jump in.

    • Kellie

       /  1 February 2011

      Jessbarz~ Thanks for the support – and good for you, too!
      My life is expanding, most remarkably in civic & political ways. It makes me wonder why CPR isn’t a school requirement? How did I not have this training earlier? Hmmm..

  3. Jane

     /  2 February 2011

    You inspire me. You let me see the beauty and the opportunity of the everyday in our lives, with clarity, commitment and a great sense of humor. I appreciate the integrity of honoring your words and completing your EMS training. Congratulations. You make us think and remember who we can be. And as always, it’s a great read.

    • Kellie

       /  3 February 2011

      Jane~Thank you so much for your kind words! Indeed, integrity has been on my mind lately, and my intent is to be impeccable with my word, always.


Add your 2 cents!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: