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Staying Alive, Staying Alive

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A few weeks ago, during my Tuesday night basketball game, somebody fainted.

Not feinted, as is usually the case. I mean fainted. As in plop, straight down to the ground, right there in the middle of the court.

And so we all rushed over and stood around him, wondering what to do.

Wondering, because out of the 20+ men present, our combined medical knowledge was discouragingly weak.

How weak? Let’s just say that in the competition that night for “Most Prepared to Treat a Possible Heart Attack Victim,” it was a tie between a financial planner who claimed to “watch a lot of Discovery Channel programming” and a guy whose dog had recently given birth.

Luckily, our fainting man sat right back up and was ultimately, perfectly fine.

Nonetheless, it was scary. And, given that the vast majority of participants at this weekly event are well north of 40, we knew this could happen again.

And so the following week, a dozen of us showed up at the local fire station on Wednesday night and plunked down $10 each for a crash course in CPR.

I have to confess, I found the whole thing a bit confusing. Yes, they’ve done a commendable job of dumbing down the complicated business of restarting a human heart (any medical treatment that hinges upon singing the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive” while being administered is clearly intended for the liberal arts majors among us).

But still, a lot to remember.

One detail, though, did stay with me: As the person performing CPR and if there are bystanders present, before beginning, you are supposed to pick somebody out of the crowd, point directly at them and shout, “You there! Call 911.”

The key point, apparently, is “pick somebody.” Because, as our cheerful instructor Dave cautioned, if all you do is shout, “Somebody call 911!,” it’s very likely that nobody will assume they are somebody (still with me?).

He went on to explain that with no one “officially” in charge, most people will conclude that others are more capable and more experienced, and therefore do nothing. By singling out an individual, that person is suddenly empowered to take action.

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