Monday, September 24, 2007

Public Service Announcement

***Warning, disturbing non-poker content ahead. SFW, but disturbing***

So I ended my weekend on a really rough note. I went to take the dog for a walk at 5, before DAPGF and I went to get dinner. As I was walking past our condo's pool, I glanced in and saw what appeared to be a person floating face down in the water, and nobody else around. I got out my keys and got into the pool area, clipped the dog leash to the fence, and whipped out the cell phone to call 911. While it's ringing, I take off my shoes, keys, wallet, etc., and jump into the shallow end where the guy is floating. 911 answers and PUTS ME ON HOLD!!! I close the phone and chuck it up on the pool deck, scream for somebody to call 911 (several times), and grab this guy who is about 6 feet tall and probably weighs 200 pounds and hurl him up onto the pool deck. Boy Scouts 20 years ago comes rushing back and I get him on his side to try and clear his airway. Beer starts coming out his nose and mouth. While I'm checking for a pulse, my cell phone starts ringing. I don't know why, but I knew it was 911 calling me back (since I hung up on them) and I answered it. The 911 operator tells me that paramedics are on the way, and starts talking me through mouth to mouth and CPR. Side note, compression/breathing patterns have changed since I was last certified in the 1980s. People start to gather around the pool deck, but only one dude is helping me out at this point, mainly wiping the beer, water, and whatever off of this guy's face while I'm doing chest compressions. After about 10 minutes of that, I realized that the other dude had left. No idea why, no idea where he went. A few minutes after that, the San Diego Fire paramedics showed up and took over. I called DAPGF to come down and get the dog, to finish her walk. A San Diego Police officer took my statement (what happened, when did I find the guy, yadda yadda yadda). After about another 20 minutes of working on the guy, the paramedics stopped, saying that he was gone. After talking with a bunch of my neighbors who were hanging around with DAPGF, I went home and showered. We decided to go get something to eat, not that I had much of an appetite at that point. We decided to walk by the pool one last time, to see if the coroner had shown up so I could give her my statement and not have to have her call me during dinner or something. Fortunately she was there and that business was taken care of. I still feel queasy.

Things learned from this whole experience. You shouldn't swim alone, and you really shouldn't swim when you've been drinking. I only saw one can of beer on a table by the chaise lounge where the guy's wallet, flip flops, etc. were, but I bet he spent the day drinking while watching football. You should also carry your keys (all of them, storage rooms, pool areas, club houses) with you at all times. Damn near all of my neighbors said that they were amazed that I had my pool key on my key ring. Apparently they all keep theirs on separate rings. That, and keep a cell phone with you at all times. I walk the dog early in the morning and late at night. I am 6'3" and weigh in the range of 277-280, and I'm walking a Doberman Pinscher. It's not that likely that anybody is really going to hassle me while I'm walking, but why take the chance. So take these experiences and use them to better protect yourselves. I'm also going to find a CPR course and get re-certified, and I suggest that you all do it, too. Again, better to be prepared than find yourself in a bad situation and not know what to do. I feel bad that I wasn't able to get the guy revived, but I know I did everything that I could, and I did it as right as possible. I hope you never find yourself in such a position, but if you do, I hope you have read this post and are better prepared for it.

***Cross-posted at What Happened***


Roscoe said...

Man, I feel for you. I have been in a situation where CPR was necessary and unsuccessful as well. The big differences are that it was part of my job, my training was current. No matter what the circumstances, it is a hard thing to deal with. I was pretty upset about it for week and a half or so. Talking to someone else who had been through it before helped a lot.

You did the right thing, which is more than a lot of people would do. Some (maybe even most) would have just kept walking, just to avoid being involved. It says a lot about your character that you did what you did.

This is another reminder that we should all be certified in CPR and first aid. I think we will go and sign up for a CPR/FA class after we finish our swiftwater rescue class.

SirFWALGMan said...


River Driver said...

Hey big brother, you know you are my hero, right?

Like Roscoe said, it's really upsetting to be involved in something like that, even when things go well. Thankfully in all the years I've been involved in lifeguarding, swimming, and all that other stuff, I've never actually had to perform CPR. I remember when Roscoe had to. Not fun.

But there are some lessons here. First of all, Roscoe's right: a lot of people would have just walked on by. Speaks very highly of you that you were willing to help (but I knew you were cool already; you're my brother). Nothing like becoming the Good Samaritan.

Also, you're right about swimming alone, and swimming under the influence. Major no-nos. We encounter similar problems on the river. People drink all day long on the river, just floating along in their canoes. Then, when they get to a rapid, all kinds of havoc ensue because they are completely incapable of dealing with the rapid. Lots of people get hurt that way, and worse.

Being prepared is another good point you make (those Boys Scouts sure are smart). I don't take my keys with me on my walks, but I do frequently take my cell phone. I need to make sure I do it all the time, I guess. I also need to renew my CPR, as I just checked my card and discovered it expires one week from today.

Anyway, I'm sorry you had to experience that. Unfortunately, we always see the folks on TV shows performing CPR and reviving the victim; what they don't tell you is that it doesn't always work that way.

Kudos to you for the effort. I always knew you were a good person. Mom's very proud of you right now, I bet...

TripJax said...

wow indeed. i second roscoe's comment...

BrainMc said...

You did your best and his family should appreciate that. I'm proud of you man and I hope you can get through this quickly.

iamhoff said...

Thanks for the good thoughts, everyone. It was pretty crazy, but I'm satisfied that I did everything I could. I'm still a little shocked about actually seeing a body in the pool, especially a fairly young (mid-late 20s), healthy-appearing man. As tragic as it is, you can understand how a toddler might drown. Likewise an elderly person (we've got a few who do aqua-aerobics) might have a heart attack. I really had to convince myself that it wasn't a blowup doll, that it really was a person. Once I got him on the deck and beer started coming out of his mouth, it all made perfect (if sad) sense.

I will be taking a CPR/FA class and I recommend that everyone else does it too. You never know what you're going to come up against. I know I certainly wasn't expecting any of that.