Tag: strangers

Striving To Save A Stranger

Compassion Quote by Cheryl Strayed

[courtesy of quotefancy.com]

I’ve tried writing this post numerous times over the past few days, but honestly wasn’t sure what to say.  So here goes; I’ll give it my best try.

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day here on this side of the ‘pond’. My mom came down to Chicago from Canada to visit for the weekend.  The trooper that she is, we decided to take the train home instead of a taxi. I say this because for those who aren’t used to traveling by train in a large, American city it can be somewhat overwhelming at first.

With luggage in tow, we were but a few stops away from home when the train pulled into a station, but didn’t leave for the next one.  Mom and I were chatting away, so my attention wasn’t focused on how long we were sitting at the stop.

The doors to each train car remained open, and our chat was broken by a woman frantically approaching the car yelling, “Is there a nurse on board?” No one said a word, so the woman moved onto the next car.  I told my mom there must be a medical emergency somewhere on the train.  This is something that happens once in a while, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the situation, although both my mom and I remarked that we hoped everything was okay.

The same woman searching for a nurse in each car came back to ours again, but this time she asked if anyone knew CPR.  I paused for about a second, hesitant to say that I knew CPR, as it had been so long ago when I learned it I didn’t know if I would remember how to do it.  All at once I found myself saying, “I know CPR; mom, I’m going!” My mom said, “I know it too!” We both ran down the platform where someone gestured which car to go into.

A man was laying on the train car floor, sprawled out, as a fellow passenger was performing CPR on him.  I took over and began compressions as best as I could.  “COME ON SIR, STAY WITH ME, STAY WITH ME!!”, I heard myself yelling to the man on the floor.  It was as if I was on some kind of auto-pilot; I can’t remember a lot of details, only that I just kept repeating the compressions and praying to God this man would be okay.  I recall putting my hand close to the man’s lips to see if I could feel his breath; I couldn’t.  My mom took over and was relentless in her energy to try to save this man’s life.  We took turns until paramedics arrived.

Everyone was asked to clear out of the train car, so with adrenaline the likes of which I have never felt before, I went back to the platform with my mom. A couple of men came up to us; one of them was Jeremy.  He told us that he too had performed CPR on the man. Jeremy mentioned that he had been in the same train car with the man (who he thought had been sleeping).  With headphones on, Jeremy said he heard a huge, “THUD” and saw the gentleman fall onto the floor.  Someone called 911, and pushed the emergency button to reach the train’s operator.  As we discussed what was happening, the other gentleman standing close by realized we had attempted to revive the man.  He thanked us for what we had done.

Here we were, complete strangers, and he thanked us.  What an incredibly bizarre feeling to be thanked for doing something that all of us should be willing to do; that is, try to save the life of a fellow human being.

I felt strange, as if I was somewhat confused by this remark.  Jeremy told us that he too had hesitated for just a second before volunteering to perform CPR, as he wasn’t sure he remembered how to use it either.  But he did use it, and like my mom and me, he so fiercely wanted to save the man’s life.

After passengers were rerouted to shuttle buses, it was only my mom and I who were left standing on the platform, waiting for paramedics to bring some good news out of the train car.  A Chicago Police Department (CPD) Officer approached us and took our names and contact information while we provided the ‘what we saw and what we did’ statements.  A few minutes later, we saw the paramedics coming out of the train car with the ill man on a stretcher, tubes protruding from his left arm and mouth.  My mom and I both thought this might be a positive sign; perhaps he would be okay after all.

But he wasn’t.  As we found out later, the man had passed on.  He could have very well been gone when Jeremy saw him earlier and thought he had been sleeping.  A lovely CPD officer called us later that afternoon.  She wanted to thank us for our attempts to save the man’s life.  She said she appreciated what we had done.  I told her that I felt to help another person was the right thing to do.

I feel weird; you know, as if I was part of something that I was supposed to be part of, and yet I had no control over the outcome.  I think I feel helpless.  I didn’t make any difference at all to help this man, and yet, part of me knows that it was his time to go.

I want to say this, though:  to Jeremy, I applaud your willingness to step up and do what you did.  You were right there when the man fell on the floor. With a train car filled with passengers, you stood up and tried so hard to revive this fellow human being.  A gentle, sincere soul you are, Jeremy.  It was an honor to meet you.  Mom, you ran to this man’s aid with me.  You didn’t stay back, or stop when you saw the man laying on the floor.  You literally got down on the floor and gave it all you had to try to save the man.  What a beginning to your Mother’s Day weekend in Chicago!

To everyone reading this post:  please consider taking a CPR course; if you do, I pray you never need to use what you learn.

To the man who left this world that day:  Bless you, sir; I hope your travels are made of love and light.  God Speed.

Compassion Dove Flying

[courtesy of http://www.wikihow.com/Cultivate-Compassion-in-Your-Life]

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