By Patricia B. de Urioste, MD
As printed in Around Town Publishing, December 2005
Everyone is drawn to miraculous stories of heroes saving lives–that’s why books, movies and TV shows depicting real or fictional accounts of these adventures are so popular. The first people who come to mind are doctors, nurses, EMTs, and firefighters, but what most people don’t realize is that the majority of lives are saved by those not in healthcare. That’s right, it is done by ordinary people, which is a good thing since there are not enough people in the medical field to meet the world’s needs.
One of the more obvious ways to help, which is also a valuable goal of the American Heart Association, is to have as many people as possible learn CPR. Doing this would go a long way in increasing survival, as it is often within those first critical minutes after a stroke, heart attack or choking episode that the final outcome is determined. Everyone who is able to should be trained in CPR–that much is clear. But the most effective ways of saving lives often seem mundane, even though they are more likely to help you and those you love, as well as improve the quality of life in general.
Using seatbelts, carseats or booster seats every time you start up the car–not just when you drive out of your neighborhood; baby-proofing; wearing a helmet when biking or skating; always watching babies and small children closely; practicing water safety–these precautions are all extremely important.
Understanding everyday activities as life saving is just a matter of asking the right questions. Have you considered what eating a balanced, heart-healthy diet, exercising, and taking prescribed medications such as blood pressure pills can do to save lives? What about having good prenatal care? Or even leading a less hectic existence and learning to cope with stress? Or helping your children develop a good self-esteem so that they can avoid stress-related disorders?
From the most dramatic activities to the least exciting, thousands of lives can be saved each day–many of them are people you know and care about.
So go out there and save a life! You never know–it might even be your own!