I attended the American Red Cross of Maryland’s Every Second Counts Breakfast at Orioles Park in Camden Yards this morning. A terrific event attended by hundreds, we were listening to the third of three personal stories of people who’s lives had been helped in a major way by the American Red Cross. Each story was a moving account of how the Red Cross provided help and support and made a difference in the outcome of a very challenging situation: a home and life’s possessions lost in a fire, a major accident with a happy ending as a result of the training for emergency medical assistance and CPR, and the need for total body transfusions over the life of a child with sickle cell disease. Each story was compelling, bringing tears to people’s eyes.
Mid-way through the third story, everything stopped, including the speaker. Our attention was drawn to someone in the back of the room who had collapsed. A few people stood to see what was happening. Simultaneously, a doctor came to the back of the room, people cleared space, calls were made to 911, and the room went silent. After several minutes, a pulse was found, the EMT’s arrived and departed, and the program – – – –
Well, there wasn’t going to be time to complete the program as originally planned. The host took the microphone and apologized, letting us all know that it appeared that things would be fine for the individual who had collapsed, although there wasn’t going to be time to finish the last story. But the question was raised – “If the person had collapsed and you were the only one in the room, would you have known what to do?”
As I walked out to the parking lot with other participants, I overheard people talking about taking safety training and having the Red Cross come to their workplace to conduct an emergency training program for employees. Pledge cards and donations were completed and handed in. It was an amazing and powerful morning.
As unsettling as it was, it served the mission of the Red Cross as no story could. It would become the story those of us who were there this morning would tell others. Talk about changing lives.