Tag Archive: CPR

CPR and Salvation

Last week, I was writing about my experiences in performing CPR, and that experience is proving fertile ground for thoughts and posts. One of the things it made me think over was salvation, because a word you’ll hear tossed around in relation to CPR is save. You know, you learn CPR in hopes that you might be better equipped to help save a person’s life. It’s all about saving a person from death. It’s about preserving their life for a bit longer.

I guess there are all kinds of ways to run with that tangent, but what got me was how people – good, ol’ human beings – approach the goal of saving someone. Do you remember what I said last week about the resuscitation effort? I said it was a privilege to be a part of it, and I also said there were a lot of people involved. Yeah, lots of people… The room (and they’re pretty big rooms which are much nicer than the rooms in our former location) was crowded with more people out in the hall. There were so many people making so much noise that anyone trying to be heard had to yell loudly. It reminded me of the story of the tower of Babel. Are you familiar with it? Let me paste it in to make it easy to read.

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b]and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

There are two things in particular that made me think of this story. One is the confusion of speech. *laughs* Everybody helping with that CPR I talked about last week was a highly trained and motivated professional. We practice to make sure we get things right – we even all speak at least some medical! – but in an emergency, there’s usually plenty of noise and at least some confusion. You expect it. Things just get repeated, and stuff gets done. It’s okay, just blah, blah, blah, babel, right?

The other thing that I think is more interesting is that we’re talking about groups. If you go to CPR training, they’ll tell you that one of the first things you’re to do is to get help. You must “activate the Emergency Response System!” You don’t try to be the Lone Ranger and save somebody all by yourself. Bad idea, bad plan – you probably won’t be able to do it. You’ll wear yourself out, and that person you’re trying to help might very well need medication and to be shocked. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep amps of epinephrine or an AED in my purse. It takes a team to help save a life, like it takes a group to build a tower. I think perhaps that this is how people operate. When we are at our best, when we accomplish the most using our own resources,  we work together in a group. It allows us to bring in skills, knowledge, talent, and other resources that are simply not available to every individual.

However, I am not so sure that this is how God works. When He created the earth and plunked people on it, how many did He use to populate the planet? Er, Adam and Eve, right? When He decided the descendants of Adam and Eve were too far gone in wickedness and must be destroyed, did He save many folk on Noah’s ark? It was one man and his wife with their three sons and their wives. When He began to make the nation of Israel, how many people did He call out of Harran and promise to make of their children a great nation? I think it was only Abram, who became Abraham. When Israel was ran over by the Midianites, and Gideon decided to follow God and get rid of them and their idolatry, how many men started out with Gideon? Assuming my math is good, it was 33,000. How many did Gideon actually have with him when they assaulted the Midianite camp? 300 (those Spartans copied!). That’s just a few examples from the book of Genesis. Fast forward a few thousand years. Christ is born to a couple in Bethlehem. Did God send His innumerable host of angels to make us all be good and save us from our sins? If they’re innumerable, I’m sure that is more than enough to make us behave. Nope, instead He leveled an assault of one, His Son, who somehow was fully God and fully man here on Earth. God’s plan to save us, to preserve our lives, was through one Man. When I stop – like, just stop, take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, let it out – and consider it, I am in awe. It does not make sense to me.

Can you imagine what salvation would look like if we were in charge of it? It would be very, very different.

You see what I’m saying here? I don’t think God does the group thing. I don’t think He thinks like we, da people, do. I am not at all sure that we da people are very well equipped to understand His methods, because our most shining moments and our greatest triumphs revolve around our ability to work together and to use work done by others. Working together, by the way, I think is a good thing. I’d guess that’s how God designed us to function, and it is what makes sense to us. We’re made to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. God, however, appears to be capable of operating outside of groups. He obviously can use them (after all, Gideon did get to take 300 men with him), but He doesn’t need them to accomplish great tasks the way we do. No wonder He confuses the heck out of us sometimes!


I’ve had a couple of opportunities in the last week to practice CPR. One was expected. That would be today’s card renewal, and, no offense to the instructors or the AHA, it was boring – a definite non-event. That’s how it should be. You really don’t want too much excitement at a routine renewal course.  After all, you’re working with dummies, and the idea is to practice and perfect technique.

The other opportunity was an event with lots of excitement. I was working, and we had a new patient come in. Things happened fast, without warning. The patient was fine – the patient was not, and we’re suddenly involved in resuscitation efforts. I mean, the patient had literally been up walking and talking 15 – 30 minutes prior. Things seemed well in hand. I’d left the room and gone down the hall to help other patients only to have to turn around and run back thinking, “Oh, no! What happened?”

It was a well attended event, with representatives from multiple departments and disciplines. I bet at least 40 people showed up to help. Lots of people were in the room. More waited outside. The noise inside was incredible at points, people shouting over the clamor as we fought to get ourselves organized and accomplish our tasks. I was part of the chest compression team, which was an energetic assignment. Unfortunately, resuscitation was not successful. We had to stop, let the patient go, and help care for the patient’s spouse. The spouse, right before leaving, said, “You guys sure tried hard.” We did. We tried very hard.

As I stood in line waiting to do chest compressions, I couldn’t help but think about the renewal class I had today. I’ve done the renewal many times. I knew it would feel very different from the focused chaos that occurs at a real event, and I started to compare and contrast. Renewals are boring. You’re just working with dummies, inanimate lumps of plastic and rubber. Far as I know, dummies don’t have relationships. They don’t have loved ones sitting behind watching you try really hard. Dummies never drew breath, and there’s something faintly ridiculous (and sometimes frustrating) about trying to give them rescue breaths. Dummies never had or have heart beats. You can lay your head down on their chests and listen for as long as you like, and you’ll never hear one. They don’t miss it. You won’t, either. At the most, for a renewal, you’ll have 3 people participating in a resuscitation practice. It’ll be something like an instructor and 2 people working on a dummy for the practice. It’s pretty calm and controlled. In fact, it’s difficult to get people to take it very seriously. There tends to be a lot of dummy jokes! Dummies are also forgettable. You don’t bump into people later and discuss how CPR on the dummy went. Well, maybe if you heard a REALLY good dummy/CPR joke, you might, but otherwise, no.

And then you have people, the real event and why you go to BLS (Basic Life Support) renewal classes. Someone had breath and now does not. Someone’s heart is not beating. Help is needed! The need is emergent, the call goes out, and staff drops what they’re doing to run to help. I did. I ran. My body started putting out adrenaline, and my feet flew quick and sure as I responded. I’ve heard some people say that they love that adrenaline rush, and that’s part of what keeps them working where traumas and resuscitation efforts are more common. I thought about that, too, while I stood there waiting. I thought it over and rejected it as my motivation. That rush is a good feeling, but it’s not enough. There’s something more there. I thought about it and thought about in the last couple of days, until I realized how privileged I felt to be there. “Privileged!” Yes, that is the word I was wanted.

Despite the hardship involved (and it is hard, make no mistake – it can be very physically and emotionally wearing), it is a privilege. Think about it. If someone is in need of CPR, it is probably one of the most significant moments of their experience. They are in profound need of assistance, and relative strangers show up to help them. How is not a privilege to be able to show up and try to help someone in desperate and immediate need? It is a burden and part of my job, ’tis true, but it is also a privilege. What makes it even more amazing is that it’s a group of people. It’s not just me, overcoming my fear and weakness and selfishness to respond. It’s a bunch of people, leaving stuff behind to gather around one person’s bed and work as a team to preserve that one person’s life. Should efforts fail, the group tends to mourn the loss as well. Curiously enough, one of the people in my renewal class today was present at the real event earlier this week. He remembered the patient and talked about it. The patient – that person – was not forgettable. That patient’s presence and absence was felt. We couldn’t help, and now someone’s family will never again hear that person’s voice or heartbeat. It’s worth grieving for them all. Again, how is this not a privilege?

Perhaps the most important difference between practice and people is that in real life, there aren’t any dummy jokes. People are too busy demonstrating that they care about other people, and that they are there for that person who is in need. To be a part of that… to get to respond… to say yes… to sacrifice and show up is most certainly a privilege.