I’m now back from my time this last week in Nevada. I’ll not comment on the excellent experience at Front Sight’s four day defensive handgun course that I shared with other Travel Insiders while in NV, because that always upsets some of the gentler souls who otherwise enjoy the newsletter (click the link to get more information), but I have to share a related epiphany of sorts that occurred while I was there.
Some of you might think that training for four days in how to competently use a handgun in a defensive scenario is all about learning how to kill people. Not so. It is all about learning how to save lives – one’s own life, and those of one’s loved ones, innocent third parties, and other people who are reliant on us to protect them.
Well, I saved a life one evening in Pahrump, NV. Happily – and here’s the epiphanous (is that a word, I wonder?) part of it – I did not need to draw a firearm to do so.
I was quietly eating dinner in a casino restaurant with a fellow Travel Insider, when a man jumped up and started shouting for help at a nearby table. It turned out that his wife, next to him, was quietly choking herself to death (which is the way it happens – no air can pass so you can’t make any sounds). He didn’t feel able to help her, himself, and was calling out for anyone who could help to render urgent assistance.
A couple of other people got up and wandered curiously towards them, but did nothing more except stand at a ‘safe’ distance and watch. Restaurant staff drew back and congregated in a corner, passively watching their patron choking on their food. As best I can tell, no-one dialed 911 for paramedics (because none subsequently turned up), although in truth, there was probably little point because the woman would surely have died prior to their arrival.
I went over and managed to effectively assist the woman.
So here’s the epiphany, such as it is. Most of us are much more likely to encounter some type of event where the way to save a life involves providing first aid rather than shooting a bad guy. It seems that a typical year sees more than 3000 people die from choking in the US (including 100 from ball point pens alone), nearly all of which could be prevented by assistance from a competent person.
That is just the start of preventable deaths, all around us. Over 325,000 people die in the US each year from sudden cardiac arrest – almost 1,000 every day. It is unclear how many of these people could be saved by prompt CPR – here’s an interesting discussion on the topic – but fewer than one third of sudden cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR at present. It is thought that survival rates could double if CPR were administered more promptly.
Whether you spend time training with guns or other self defense techniques or not, here’s my request to you : Take a first aid course. Visit the Red Cross website, or ask your health care provider, or fire station, or local hospital, and find a nearby course and class, and learn some basic first aid skills.
Look around you at work, at home, in the supermarket and mall, in your church, sports club, and wherever else you frequent. You might end up saving one of those people’s lives – and, equally importantly, you might end up relying on one of them to save your life. Gain some simple skills yourself, and encourage the people around you to do so too.
I was shocked to see how no-one else in the restaurant was willing to help the woman who was choking. I was a little slow to leap to her assistance myself because I assumed that some of the restaurant staff would be expertly trained in first aid and how to resolve choking incidents. But afterwards the maitre d’ came to me to thank me for my assistance (and that was indeed all he did, I didn’t even earn a free drink or dessert in return) and explained that their company policy forbade them to go to the assistance of anyone who had a sudden medical emergency, due to concerns about liability.
The subject of how seriously wrong our country is that people would rather stand back and watch someone die than rush to their assistance is a topic way beyond my comprehension, especially because ‘good samaritan’ laws generally protect such people anyway. This man’s explanation underscored to me the need to become more self-reliant, because people you would expect to help you may very well not do so.
Lastly, spare a thought for the new dynamic between this couple. How helpless and useless, how inadequate do you think the man deservedly felt, being able to do nothing more than stand up and shout for help and hope a stranger might intercede to save his wife? If you love your partner, your children, your parents, and/or anyone/everyone else you associate with, you need to establish a mutual aid pact such that you all agree to get basic first aid training so that you can all help each other should an emergency occur.
Please – when giving thanks this Thanksgiving for the gift of life we all enjoy, promise yourself and those around you that you’ll invest a day of your time to learn how to preserve and protect the lives of your loved ones. And – not to suggest delay, but when thinking about your resolutions for the new year now getting very close – resolve to gain the simple skills to help those around you if a medical emergency occurs.
Best of all, in deciding to attend a course, encourage some friends and family members to go with you. That way they are available to assist you in an emergency, the same as you will be available to assist them.
The life you might save could be your own. Or that of someone you’d gladly die for. Don’t die for them. Live – and learn – so that you both can live.