The gift of preparedness

I was sitting in the press box at the 80th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration last night.

My purpose in being there — or at least my purpose in staying so late — was so that I could post the winners of the the two divisions of Stallions, 5 Years and Over (Canter) to the Times-Gazette’s website at the end of the evening. That stallion class is closely-watched because most Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champions come from that division, and so the horses that do well in the stallion class are the immediate front-runners for the big prize a week later.

The stallion class was 79A and 79B. A few classes earlier, I had been sitting through Class 77, Owner-Amateur Novice Gentleman Riders on Novice Stallions. I was not, I have to admit, paying close attention to that class; the entries were in lineup, waiting for the judges’ results, and I was checking something on my phone.

Suddenly, I heard a gasp from the crowd. I looked up, grabbed my binoculars, and saw a rider on the ground.

Soon, various center ring personnel and others were crowded around. I strained to see what was happening, and it became clear that someone was giving chest compressions.

Shortly thereafter, the Bedford County Emergency Medical Services mobile unit — a tricked-out Gator that can carry a stretcher — pulled into the ring. The BCEMS personnel started doing chest compressions, before eventually loading the rider onto a stretcher and rushing him out of the ring to a nearby ambulance.

At the end of the evening, ring announcer Mark Farrar said that the rider had been transported by LifeFlight helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

All of that rambling leads up to this: A lot of people know CPR, but a lot more people need to know it. I am actually current in my CPR certification; I took a class last November. But over the years, I’ve been sloppy about it — I will take a class, which is good for two years, but then I won’t bother to renew it. Eventually, I’ll hear about a class and get certified again.

Photo by Rama (Creative Commons license, file downloaded from Wikimedia Commons)

CPR saves lives. It’s a skill that every adult should possess, and taking the class every two years makes sure it’s fresh in your mind and keeps you up-to-date on the occasional changes in protocol.

When you take a CPR class these days, most of the time, you also learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). AEDs are now available in many businesses, schools and other public places, and they, too, can save a life.

If you are not currently certified in CPR, call your local hospital, ambulance service, or ask the HR director at your workplace if you are with a large company. Chances are, there is a CPR class coming up that you can fit into your schedule. If you can put together a group, at work, or at church, or through your civic club, you can find someone to teach a class. It takes just a few hours of your time.

And — let me be clear about this — it can save a life. I have not heard any updates yet on the rider who fell off his horse Saturday night, but if he lives, CPR may have been what saved him.

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