Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Is A Life Worth?

My job requires that I maintain a CPR certification for healthcare workers. I like that - I am happy that I know what to do if someone needs my help.

But I am stunned every 2 years when I have to take the class to re-certify. Because every time, the instructor says something like "If you don't have personal protective gear [ie: gloves and a breathing mask thingy], you will have to decide whether you want to risk yourself and help the person who is injured. Many people choose not to help in that situation."

And she always says this like it is reasonable and "cool" to stand by and watch someone die when you have the power to save their life.

And it always freaks me out a little. [Well, a lot.] And it makes me sad.

Here is the reality: we live in a world where a person might very reasonably go out to a bar and pick up a complete stranger and then have sex with that stranger. They may do this several times a week. "Hooking up" is a socially acceptable pass time in our culture.

This person would have no qualms about exchanging every bodily fluid known to man with this "hot" stranger they picked up at a bar.

And please - don't talk to me about "Safe Sex" - that is a ridiculous thing to say. Condoms are only reliable at preventing pregnancy 61-80% of the time [depending on which study you read] and the HIV virus is much smaller than a sperm cell - so if condoms fail to prevent pregnancy that often, how often do you think they are failing to prevent HIV transmission? And that's when they are even used correctly or used at all - as we all know, in practice many, many people don't bother.

So, we have this socially acceptable and quite common "hooking up" thing going on - even though we know it is extremely risky behavior. Even though we know people DO contract HIV, Hepatitis B, and all manner of other nasty little viruses through this type of contact. On a regular basis.

And hey, you know what? If you want to do that, it is not my business at all. I'll never say one word to you about it. Good luck with that.

But at the same time, we have a situation where it is ALSO culturally acceptable to stand aside and let someone DIE because you don't want to risk "exchanging bodily fluids" with them.

Even though there has NEVER been ONE single documented case of someone contracting a disease from performing CPR to save someone's life. [I asked about this, I wanted to know]. Even though "deep kissing" is considered very low risk for HIV transmission [if a risk at all], and CPR involves MUCH less contact/exchange than "deep kissing".

Does this make anyone else out there want to SCREAM at the lunacy?

It just blows my mind.

But I want you to know World: If *I* am the one who comes upon you during your cardiac arrest or after your car wreck, I will do *everything* I possibly can to save your life. Whether I have gloves or a breathing mask or not.

And if, by some bizarre fluke, I am actually the first person EVER to contract a disease and die from doing CPR, then I will die PROUD that I did the right thing.

You could come to my funeral and throw a flower on my coffin and enjoy the rest of your life knowing I was glad to have saved it.

[But don't go asking me to hook up with you at a bar, cause that ain't gonna happen. ;) ]

God Help Us All.


  1. It's strange the things people are afraid of--and the ones they're not!
    My husband once got turned down from donating blood for the Red Cross when he answered the question "have you been in contact with anyone's blood?" by telling them he had helped our toddler when she had a bloody nose...they told him he couldn't donate blood for a year!