The Top 10 Things I Learned That Could Save Your Life
10. I don't know about you, but I had not taken a CPR class since the sixth grade. So I was glad that I had the opportunity to get re-certified. It turns out, it's changed a little bit in the last 15 years. Now, if you come across an unconscious person that is not breathing, you're not supposed to check for a pulse; you're just supposed to start chest compressions. (Thirty compressions, two breaths, five rounds altogether; you can compress to the beat of "Staying Alive" or "Another One Bites The Dust.") The breathing part is less important. Of course, if you know the person you can give them breaths, but it's not like you have to do it on random strangers. Do the same if you see someone choking and they go unconscious, just start chest compressions until the ambulance gets there.
Learning about defibrillators.
9. Make sure your home's fire extinguisher is up to date / not expired. They should be checked out every few years and replaced as needed. You can contact your fire station's non-emergency number to have yours looked at.
8. If you do have to use a fire extinguisher, aim toward the base of the fire, not at the flames. You want to cut off the oxygen at the source, and spraying at the flames won't do anything. Never use water to extinguish a kitchen fire.
7. Airbags. If your vehicle has curtain airbags for the backseat — that is, the kind of airbags that fall from the ceiling over the windows in the back — do NOT let your children (or anyone else) fall asleep with their head against the window. If someone's head is in the way, and you have an accident, the airbag will fall at a rate of like, 250 miles per minute or thereabouts, and snap the neck of the sleeping person.
6. Firefighters drive the ambulances. They are all required to be certified paramedics. They know what they are doing, and they are awesome at their jobs. Listen to them when they tell you what to do or what not to do.
Intubating, CPR-ing and preparing a dummy for transport.
5. Sometimes, firefighters have to make hard decisions about what buildings can be saved in the event of a wildfire. It is not in your control; it's dependent on things like the wind, debris surrounding the building, the likelihood of sparking, etc. They have to protect themselves and their team before they can protect anything else, or it won't do any good for them to be there. When they tell you to get out of the area, do it. Don't be stupid.
If they can't get out before a wildfire overtakes them, they have these full-body, fire-resistant plastic covers they can use to protect themselves from the flames — but not the heat — for a short while.
4. At least in our city, the firefighters make it their goal to get to any scene within four minutes of leaving the station. They get out of there FAST. They drive fast, but they do drive safely, and if you're in the way, they have to slow down to ensure their own — and others' — safety. If you see an emergency vehicle coming up behind you with its lights flashing, pull over to the right side of the road IMMEDIATELY and let them get by. Don't be stupid.
3. If the dispatcher receives a call from any number, they are required to send an officer out to check to make sure there's nothing wrong, even if you hang up the phone. Don't hang up if you accidentally dial 9-1-1. Tell the dispatcher it was an accident. They'll still likely send someone, but at least then they'll know it isn't a true emergency. (Unhooked phones and cell phones that are disconnected can still call 9-1-1. If you give a child an old cell phone to play with, remove the battery so they don't accidentally call the cops.)
Touring dispatch. Their desks morph from sitting to standing desks!
2. Don't intentionally start fires. Did you know that if you commit arson, and a firefighter gets injured or killed while getting to the fire or putting it out, you can be charged with a felony? (Even if the fire truck gets into an accident on the way to the fire.) Don't be stupid.
1. Do what the 9-1-1 dispatcher says. Stay calm. Provide your address first thing, if you can, before stating your emergency. Even if you can't provide an address, there's a really good chance they can find you based on your cell signal coordinates or the address that you registered your phone to.
(Photos courtesy of CFA.)
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