A few months ago, I saved a life. It is not the first time that this happens, it is actually the second life I am able to save in the past 20 years. But that doesn’t make me a hero. That title has long been taken and is well-deserved by the men and women who dedicate every day of their lives to saving others. I am simply someone who became CPR certified many years ago and has taken the time to maintain her certification level active and up to date throughout the years.
But let’s go back to that morning when I saved a life.
I was driving my youngest son to school, singing along to a Thomas the Train song when I noticed that the car in front of me started driving strangely. It was a minivan, and the driver was accelerating and braking repeatedly, making the vehicle jerk back and forth. “Damn Miami drivers,” I thought. Scenes like this one are not uncommon in this town, but I thought it was a little bit too early to be drunk, or perhaps they were still drunk from the night before. Hey, it happens.
Suddenly, the driver turned the hazard lights on and pull onto the shoulder. This was an easy maneuver for the driver, as we were both in the right lane about to exit onto US1. I noticed the driver having a difficult time opening their door, but a lady eventually stepped out of the car with her hands on her chest. I turned my parking lights on and quickly turned the wheel to park behind her. I pulled the windows down, put my car in parking gear, and applied the emergency brake. I said to my son “I’ll be right back baby, I’m going to the front of the car to make sure this lady is okay, she looks sick.” He didn’t care, he was still singing along to Thomas the Train. Kids…
I slowly approached the lady and noticed her face was quite pale and her lips were starting to turn blue. She was having a difficult time breathing, barely gasping for air. I could hear a voice coming from inside her van but couldn’t see anyone. Within a second, and thankfully right as I got to her, she collapsed. I did my best to grab her and slowed down her fall onto the hard pavement and helped her heavy body down on the ground. She was unresponsive and after checking, I noticed she wasn’t breathing. “Crap.” I said out loud.
She looked to be in her early 60s and didn’t seem to have any visible wounds. The voice I had been hearing was her husband crying and screaming on the phone. He was on speaker and the phone was on the driver’s seat. From a squatting position, prepping to help her, I told him my name and I explained that she had collapsed and that I was trying to help. I needed to call 911, but my phone was in the car, I couldn’t reach hers, and I thought it was more important to start performing CPR right away. My body was helping the lady, but my mind was on my child who was inside my car. I kept looking in his direction to make sure all was okay and continued performing CPR. I tried to appease my brain by talking out-loud to myself, “he’s fine Diana, the car is on, the AC is on, and Thomas music is playing. He’s fine, just help this lady.”
After Diana managed to calm Diana, the squirrel brain relaxed, and the Bee Gees arrived. “Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, not time to talk…” I sang and sang while I did chest compressions. It was the song I had chosen during CPR training to perform CPR in a rhythmic manner. “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive… Come on lady! You can do this!” I screamed at the person I was trying to help because I thought she could hear me. I didn’t know her name. I tried asking her husband who was still on the phone, but he was a mess, hysterical, crying and screaming. I am not sure he heard me.
I turned around to see if someone had stopped to help, but nothing. It was morning rush hour traffic, and there were hundreds or cars around. I noticed a woman in a car wearing scrubs. Through the adrenaline rush my body was going through, I assume she was a medical professional, and whistled at her. I wanted to wave but I didn’t want to stop chest compressions. She put her window down I asked her to please come help but her reply was paralyzing, “No thank you, I don’t want to get sued.” I flipped her a mental birdie and continued the chest compressions. I started screaming for anyone nearby with a window open to please call 911 but it seemed as if that early morning in Miami nobody gave a damn about extending a helping hand. Assholes.
Finally, a man in a brand-new Porsche Panamera stopped. He parked on the right lane, blocking the oncoming traffic and creating a protective barrier for us. He stepped out of his car, told me he didn’t know anything about CPR, and asked how else he could help. “Thank you for stopping, please call 911.” I said almost screaming at him. He said he had already done it. He said he had given location and a description of the situation. Then he asked how else he could help.
As I looked at him to ask him to please check on my son who was in the car, the lady started faintly breathing. “Yes! Yes! Yes! Hi. Hi there. My name is Diana and I am trying to help you. An ambulance in on the way. Please stay there. I’m going to stay here with you. Okay?” She was breathing and I felt as if I had just given birth again. Shit! I was happy as hell! Her pulse was almost non-existent, but a pulse, nonetheless. I started talking to her and at the same time I grabbed her phone from the driver’s seat and turned the speakerphone off. Her husband’s screams had been driving me batshit crazy the whole time. I said to him, “She’s breathing sir, she’s breathing. An ambulance is on the way.” He started crying again. I rolled my eyes; I have no patience for drama.
He finally calmed down long enough to say her name was Lori. They lived in Michigan, and she was in Miami for a conference. Then he started crying again. I told him to please stop crying because his wife was breathing. I told him the paramedics were on the way. He finally stopped crying and said, “Thank you. Thank you for helping my Lori. I would die without her!” I couldn’t help but think that he might have something to do with her faint heart, but quickly moved that morbid thought out of my head. Within three minutes the paramedics arrived. I was grateful that we were so close to a hospital, and the paramedics arrived through the front of the car, facing the wrong way on the exit ramp.
Rather than understanding the situation, drivers were upset that their driving commute had to be rerouted because of the ambulance. Many started honking, putting their arms out the window flipping the birdie and screaming curse words. I seriously don’t understand why people are so selfish, but it has been my experience in this city that most people worry about themselves and the thought of helping others is preposterous. Fuckers.
As the paramedics arrived and started ‘working’ on Lori, I stepped out of the way and went towards my car to make sure my son was OK. He had been interrogating the man who stopped, asking him who he was, what he was doing in mom’s car, and why his hair looked so shiny. He had a lot of gel. As he moved away from my car window, where he had been leaning, chatting with my kid, he simply said, “The kid should become an attorney when he gets older. He has the cross examining down to a science.” I laughed, agreed, and thanked him for stopping and calling 911.
He asked me how long I had been trying to get someone to stop. It occurred to me that the whole ordeal lasted less than five minutes but seemed like an eternity. “Since I realized she wasn’t breathing, but nobody cared.” I replied. He shook his head in disbelief and started walking towards his car. I went around and took my son out of the car and walked back to where Lori was being cared for by the emergency responders. My rambling brain took over and I couldn’t help but think that it’ll be impossible not to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after doing that job every day. I certainly could not do it.
When I heard one of the paramedics talk to me, my pondering thoughts stopped. “Are you the one who performed CPR?” He asked me. Before I answered, I remembered the woman in scrubs who refused to get involved because she could get sued. Was this important to me? I guess not. I didn’t have a dime to my name, so what could they possibly take? “Yes, I am. My name is Diana and I am CPR trained and certified.” He asked me several questions about what happened, took my information, and left. My last question to him was “Is she going to be, OK?” The other paramedic, a lady who was handling the gurney Lori was now laying on turned around and replied, “Yes, she’s going to be fine, thanks to you. Thank you for caring. The world needs more people like you and less Instagram stars.”
And even though that made me think about the 500 Instagram followers I have, that made my day.
So, this brings me to why I wanted to write this story: to send a message about the importance of CPR training. The first time I became CPR certified was about 23 year ago when my first child choked on a coin and I didn’t know what to do to help him. I didn’t want to be in that situation ever again and decided to learn how to deal and manage an emergency like that in the future. Thankfully, I never had to use my skills with him or my youngest one, but I am prepared if I ever have to do it.
I believe CPR training should be mandatory for just about anyone in the world who is capable and able to perform it on a person who is in need. I have never considered myself to be a savvy CPR administrator, but I am happy that I know the skills. The first time I had to use him was twelve years ago at the bank. While standing in line to deposit a check, a woman collapsed. She was an attractive and voluptuous woman. She had a small child with her, about 8 or 9 years old. Most people around where men, and despite one of them being dressed in scrubs, nobody rushed to her help.
At that time, I had just gotten recertified, so I felt pumped and sure that I was my duty to do the right thing and help her. The bank manager came and started comforting the woman’s little girl who is crying hysterically, wondering what is happening to her mother. The chest compressions and, at the time, mouth to mouth worked, and the young mother got a pulse. That time, the paramedics didn’t arrive that fast. It took them about 15 minutes to get to the bank, but the woman was already breathing and was somewhat coherent. A few weeks later I got a call. “Is this Diana?” said a stern voice on the phone. It depends, who is this?” I replied with my usual sarcastic tone. “This is Officer …. From the …. Police Department,” said the voice on the other end. “What now? I thought. What did I do?” was my reply. He informed that, to his knowledge, I had done nothing wrong. He was calling to let me know there was something at the police department for me.
In my years of living in Miami, I have never received anything other than a ticket from the police, so I wasn’t immediately impressed or curious. “Is it a ticket?” I asked the office on the phone. “No ma’am. It’s an envelope that was dropped off by paramedics, it has your name and phone number on it,” stated the good officer. My mind went blank, I had no idea what this mysterious envelope could be. The envelope contained a drawing made by the lady’s daughter, the one from the bank. Sadly, I no longer have this precious drawing. It stayed behind with the life I left. But for a long time, it was a reminder that it is possible to do good and expect nothing in return.
That morning on the exit ramp felt the same. I didn’t hesitate one second to get out of the car and see what was wrong with Lori. I know not everyone in the world operates the way I do, but I think everyone should. The world would and could be a better place if people started giving more fucks about each other rather than caring about personal belongings, or other material possessions. That’s all a bunch of crap that doesn’t contribute anything to our lives. Saving a life or helping someone in need, that is what really makes us grow as humans.
I said goodbye to the good man who called 911, stopped, and help redirect the traffic because to shield me and Lori, who was basically laying down in the middle of the highway. I got back in my car and started driving my son to school; he was perfectly fine and happy, still singing to Thomas the Train music. On the short trip to school I asked him what he had chatted about with the gentleman. He said, “Mama, he was weird. He said you were a hero, but you have no suit, so you can’t be a hero.” The kid should become an attorney. Then we went on to ramble about how the man knew everything about Paw Patrol and the Frost Museum of Science. He probably had children. I never got his name, but it is not customary for wealthy people in Miami to stop and help. They generally are living their own life’s. This guy was very nice and whoever he is and wherever he is I thank him.
At around 10:30 AM the morning of Lori’s CPR, I received a phone call from the emergency room doctor. I later learned that this is normal in cases like this, but at first, I thought it was weird that he was calling me. He didn’t disclose any of Lori’s medical information but wanted to know exactly what had happened, what I had witnessed prior to her collapsing, and what I had done. “Shit! I’m getting sued after all.” I thought before replying. I explained everything in detail and then asked if she was going to be OK. The doctor quickly replied “Yes, yes, she’s fine, and she’s going to live to tell this story and many others thanks to your willingness to get CPR trained and stop to help someone in need. Thank you.”
Twice in one day. Damn girl! You’re killing it! The good doctor made my day all over again.
The moral of the story is simple; take the time to get CPR trained or learn a valuable skill. If you have the disposable income, get as many certifications that can prepare you to help other people. If it’s not CPR training, then figure out a way to use your current skills to help others, not just benefit yourself financially. If you give good, then good will come back to you. It’s a simple universal rule. Be part of the solution to the myriad of problems in this world rather than contributing to them, like the woman in scrubs who continued driving instead of helping to save a life, someone who had the skills to help, but was too busy with herself. Bitch!