Federal Librarian Summer 2009

In Case of Emergency

By Lucille Rosa

This week, I did something I’ve never done before. I took a class in CPR. The medics here at the Naval War College have scheduled a series of classes hoping to increase the number of folks who can save lives in the event of an emergency. I passed and got my card.

During the course, a number of questions were raised that point out the important role that bystanders can play in the success of any rescue. Two of those points are worth repeating.

The 911 call: In 1984, my brotherin-law Mike was working as a supervisor at the Sewer Treatment Plant in Providence, RI. The plant utilized a conveyor belt that rose high into the air. The conveyor belt turned around a drum that had to be cleaned periodically. To do this job, you had to climb a rather high ladder and clean the drum while the conveyor
belt was turning.

That day, towards the end of his shift, Mike was showing one of his men how to clean the drum safely. You were supposed to do it without getting your fingers caught. Maybe he was tired, but he ended up getting his fingers caught and the powerful turning drum did its worst. Mike fell off the ladder to the ground minus his arm. One man tended to Mike while the other ran to call 911.

“What city are you in?” asked the operator. “We’re at the Sewer Treatment Plant,” answered the man. “What city are you in?” repeated the operator. “The Sewer Treatment Plant, we’re at the Sewer Treatment Plant, hurry!” the now frantic man kept repeating. Finally, after repeated attempts to get the name of the City, the 911 operator got the man to tell
her that he was in Providence, RI.

What he never dreamed was that the 911 operator on the phone could possibly be in any other city than the one he was in, yet that was just the case. How do I know that? Because my mother was an information operator in the office that took the call in Fall River, Massachusetts! Fortunately, Mike survived, but the results could have been different had
his employee not given the name of the city and state.

Today, it is even more important to tell the name of the city and state where the emergency is unfolding. In particular, with the advent of cell phones, you are likely to be visiting Texas and your 911 call might be answered by a call center in Vermont. Tell where you are.

The AED: AED is short for Automated Electrical Defibrillator. Do you know where the closest one is in your workplace? If you came across someone assisting a coworker or a patron who was unresponsive and they asked you to get an AED,
could you get it for them? Not if you don’t know where it is. After you finish reading this article, find out where the nearest AED can be found. If there isn’t any in your building, you might want to suggest that your command invest in one.

Now you are equipped to assist in an emergency. Just remember these two points: 1. When making a 911 call, always tell the location of the emergency, including the state; and 2. Know where the AED is kept so you can retrieve it when needed.

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